Ways To Prevent Eastern Equine Encephalitis
NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA - What can be a deadly mosquito-borne disease for both people and animals is currently active in our area. A fifth horse has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, in North Central Florida.
EEE is a contagious infection that is spread by mosquitoes and can affect both horses and humans. The Alachua County Health Department says the number of cases this year is higher than usual.
For some people horses are more than just pets. "They are our friends, they are companions… really on the truest sense of the word," Mindy Griffin said. Mindy has loved horses ever since she first rode one. One thing that worries her and her husband is the safety of their horses. "Because it is so deadly, so we are very concerned about it. The horse community is very concerned about it," Gary Griffin her husband said.
The Marion County Health Department is advising residents to take preventive measures, as this week a fifth horse tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Three horses from Marion County and two from Alachua County.
"We do vaccinate our horses in the spring before mosquito season. If you vaccinate and take all the precautions, you're going to be okay," Gary said.
Craig Ackerman with the Marion County Health Department says EEE is among the most serious mosquito-borne diseases. "There is no vaccine for Eastern Equine Encephalitis for humans… it just does not exist. And treatment basically revolves around treating the symptoms and what other onset of the disease that may come," Ackerman said.
This is why the Griffin's take extra precautions during mosquito season. "Drain standing water around any property you own, whether it's a dog dish or a bird bath or a boat that is left out in the open without a tarp. And then cover yourself, if there are areas of your skin that are not covered… your neck, your face use DEET or Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus." And when you're out on the field, you want to cover your skin by wearing closed shoes, long pants and long sleeves.
"It's very important to keep your water trough clean. We clean out our water troughs weekly. Keep little fish in your water troughs, they'll eat any mosquito larvae or any other bugs that might get on the water. So if you take some basic precautions, you're going to be pretty safe," Gary said.
For the Griffin's the health of their horses, which are like family-- matter most. "There's always somebody or some animal that is there for you on the good days, the bad days. Life is never boring with horses, every single day is an adventure," Mindy added.
If you want more information on how to keep yourself and your horses’ safe, click here.
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