The Southwest Health District confims that a horse in Grady County has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a disease that can cause severe illness in humans.
"This virus is spread the same way as West Nile virus, through the bite of an infected mosquito," Grant said. "We know from this positive case that the virus is circulating in our District. Mosquitoes carrying the virus can bite people as well as horses," said Southwest Health District Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.
It generally takes from 3 to 10 days to develop symptoms of EEE after being bitten by an infected mosquito, she said. Many persons infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus have no apparent illness.
However, said Grant, those who do become ill face the risk of severe disease.
"Symptoms range from mild flu-like illness to inflammation or swelling of the brain, coma and death," she said. "Further, the mortality rate from EEE is approximately one-third, making it one of the most deadly mosquito-borne diseases in the United States. That makes EEE a big Public Health concern."
In addition, approximately half of those persons who survive EEE will have mild to severe permanent neurologic damage.
"There's no specific treatment for the infection. Hospitalization and supportive care is provided to those who develop severe infections," Grant said.
She also warned that there are no human vaccines to offer protection from infection from Eastern Equine Encephalitis.