Valdosta – Public Health officials are encouraging South Georgians to wear mosquito spray whenever outdoors to guard against mosquito-borne illnesses. A horse in Lowndes County has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
“While we see these types of reports each year, it’s still important for us to remember the importance of preventing mosquito bites whenever possible,” says Kenneth Lowery, district epidemiologist. “Mosquito borne illnesses can cause severe sickness, brain damage or death in some cases.”
Most mosquito-borne illnesses are transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. “Even though it’s rare for a human to be infected with these illnesses, anyone can become ill after being bit by an infected mosquito. The risk is higher for people who spend a lot of time outdoors, live in wooded or swampy areas, or have traveled overseas to certain areas,” says Lowery.
Tips to prevent mosquito bites are:
Use insect repellent containing DEET, picardin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and/or clothing.
Wear long sleeves and pants when weather permits.
Have secure, intact screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, wading pools and other containers. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out.
Be sure to use repellent and wear protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider indoor activities during these times due to peak mosquito biting hours.
Although there is no vaccine for humans to prevent mosquito-borne illness, there are EEE and West Nile Virus vaccines available for horses. Consult with your veterinarian to have your horse(s) vaccinated as early as possible.
For more information on mosquito borne illnesses visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov.