Mosquito-Borne Illness Alert for Levy County

BRONSON, Fla. (WCJB)- The Florida Department of Health has issued a mosquito-borne illness alert for Levy County after finding Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as EEE.

A flock of Emus at a specialty bird farm near Bronson tested positive for the virus on Tuesday. The health department has not found any mosquitoes in the area with the virus so far this year, but say that they are starting to populate and are capable of spreading the disease to humans.

EEE is prevalent across the eastern US, but cases in North Florida usually don't develop until the summer or fall. Such an early case of EEE has health officials spreading a message: now is the time to protect yourself from mosquitoes.

They recommend using bug spray with DEET, checking your yard for areas where water pools (gutters and flower pots for example), and covering your skin with clothes, especially during the late afternoon and evening.

Every one out of three human cases of EEE results in death. While most people with the disease make a full recovery, some are left with major neurological damage, an effect from brain swelling.

All mammals, in particular horses, are capable of catching the disease. Some horse owners in Levy County say they are already taking precautions and recommend everyone in the equestrian community vaccinate their animals.

You can learn more about Eastern Equine Encephalitis here:http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/eastern-equine-encephalitis/index.html