COLLIER COUNTY, Fla - In Collier County, a fourth horse, within the past month, has fallen victim to the mosquito-borne virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Of additional concern, in Hillsborough County where four horses have died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a resident tragically died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis in recent weeks.
EEE causes severe illness in humans and horses. Symptoms in humans develop 3-10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito and begin with a sudden onset of fever, general muscle pains, and a headache of increasing severity. Symptoms can become more severe over 1-2 weeks and infected individuals will either recover or show onset of inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) with seizures and vomiting.
Human cases are usually preceded by those in horses. Disease transmission does not occur directly from person to person. Those at highest risk are people who live in or visit woodland areas, people who work or participate in outdoor work or recreational activities where there is greater exposure to potentially infected mosquitoes.There are vaccines available for use in horses in protecting them against EEE, Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE), and West Nile Encephalitis (WNV). Horse owners should contact their veterinarian about the appropriate use of these vaccines. However, because there are not vaccines for humans, Collier County Health Department and Collier Mosquito Control District officials remind residents and visitors to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.