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Ocala
Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Horse in Marion County tests positive for rare mosquito-borne disease

Local health officials are offering tips on how residents and visitors can protect themselves against mosquito-borne diseases after a horse in Marion County tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) disease can be spread to people by a bite from an infected mosquito. Only a few cases are typically reported in the United States each year, and most of them occur in eastern or Gulf Coast states.

While EEE is rare, it is considered very serious. The CDC states that nearly one-third of people who become infected with it die, and many survivors deal with ongoing neurological problems.

The Florida Department of Health in Marion County (DOH-Marion) encourages the community to remain diligent in taking preventative measures like “Drain and Cover” to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illnesses.

  • DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.
    • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flowerpots, or any other containers where water has collected.
    • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances, and other items that are not being used.
    • Empty and clean birdbaths and pets’ water bowls at least once or twice a week.
    • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that do not accumulate water.
    • Maintain swimming pools in good condition and keep them appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
  • COVER skin with clothing or repellent.
    • Clothing – Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
    • Repellent – Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
      • Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, 2-undecanone, and IR3535 are effective.
      • Use mosquito netting to protect children who are younger than 2 months old.
    • Tips on Repellent Use:
      • Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.
      • Products with concentrations of up to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are generally recommended. Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, 2-undecanone, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
      • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
      • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the CDC, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol should not be used on children under the age of 3. DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old.
      • Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
      • If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
    • Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency offers a search tool for skin-applied repellent products to help individuals determine which repellent is best for them to use.

The Florida Department of Health continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, St. Louis Encephalitis, malaria, and dengue.

For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit the Florida Department of Health ‘Mosqauito-Borne and Other Insect-Borne Diseases’ webpage or contact your local county health department.

Any residents who see dead birds are encouraged to visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ‘Surveillance of Wild Bird Die-offs’ webpage to report it.

For more information on the Eastern Equine Encephalitis disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ‘Eastern Equine Encephalitis’ webpage.