COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Worries for horse owners in Collier County. Vets recently euthanized a horse because it contracted a deadly disease from a mosquito. Turns out, humans can get it too.
The Department of Agriculture was informed a horse in Golden Gate Estates got Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE. In horses this disease is fatal. Although it's not as easy for people to get it, the outcome can be equally as devastating.
"It's fatal, it's absolutely fatal. Horses get very lethargic, their brain swells," Lark Henry tells me. She's familiar with EEE, also known as the sleeping sickness for horses.
It's this time of year when summer rains give way for standing puddles of water, and mosquitoes that can carry the disease.
Henry vaccinates all 30 of her horses at Bobbin Hollow Equestrian Center twice a year so they won't get EEE, but not everybody is as proactive.
"I'm sure with the economy, people are putting that to the waist side. I'm sure horses in backyards and out in the woods with tons of mosquitoes, I'm sure they're susceptible," Henry says.
The virus that killed a horse in Golden Gates Estates can also kill people, but it's only transmitted by blood.
"People don't have to fear horses because of this," Deb Millsap with the Collier County Health Department explains.
Although it's rare, Millsap wants to make sure no humans get the virus from a mosquito either.
"Try not to be outside when mosquito activity is at it's peak, and that's before dawn and after dusk."
Long sleeves and mosquito spray with DEET will also keep you safe.
EEE has similar affects on people as another mosquito virus to be aware of this time of year, West Nile. "Flu symptoms, maybe a little fever a little headache that type of thing," Millsap says.
She tells me there have been mild cases of West Nile, but no EEE or full blown West Nile cases in years. However, Millsap suggest if you do have flu-like symptoms that continue to get worse you should go to the doctor or hospital.