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Aug. 29, 2005

Horse Tests Positive for EEE in Oswego County

The Oswego County Health Department has been notified by the New York State Health Department that a horse has tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).

The animal, which had been pastured on County Route 84 in the Town of Hastings, had been experiencing neurological problems. The horse was euthanized Aug. 21. It was originally tested for rabies and was found to be negative for that viral disease. The positive EEE test result was confirmed Aug. 26.

According to Oswego County Health Commissioner Kathleen Smith, the mosquito population in Oswego County is extremely low and does not warrant any mosquito spraying activity at this time.

"We have been in constant contact with the State Health Department all summer long. While the County has not run a mosquito surveillance program this year, the State has been doing some mosquito collections as part of a research project they are conducting. With this year's very dry summer, the number of mosquitoes is currently extremely low and their low numbers do not warrant any control activities at this time," said Smith.

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a rare but serious viral disease spread by mosquitoes that can affect people and horses. EEE can also cause disease in captive birds such as the ring-necked pheasant, emus, quail and ducks.

In humans, the disease can affect the central nervous system causing fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle pain. Inflammation and swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, is the most dangerous complication. There is no human vaccine for EEE.

"While the chances of a person getting encephalitis are small, we should all take steps to reduce the prevalence of mosquitoes around the home," said Smith. "The best way to protect yourself is to stay away from any areas were mosquitoes might concentrate, limit your outside activities during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes will be most active, wear long sleeve shirts and long pants and use insect repellant containing DEET. Always use insect repellants according to the label instructions," Smith added.

People with questions may call the health department at 349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3547, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. After business hours, they can be reached at 341-0086.

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