Chesapeake horse dies after Eastern Equine Encephalitis diagnosis

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – A horse in Chesapeake that was recently diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has died, according to the Chesapeake Health Department.

The agency says August and September are the most active months for cases of mosquito-borne diseases, including EEE and West Nile virus (WNV).

“School may signal the beginning of fall for many people, but NOT for mosquitoes. This is the time of year residents should be most cautious about eliminating mosquito breeding sites and avoiding excessive mosquito bites,” said Dr. Nancy Welch, director, Chesapeake Health Department. “Mosquito control districts all over Hampton Roads are detecting higher than normal WNV activity in mosquitoes this season.”

People at the highest risk for serious mosquito-borne diseases are young children, adults age 50 and older and those who have diseases such as cancer or diabetes, which can suppress a person’s immune system.

The Virginia Department of Health also reported Tuesday that 12 people have tested positive for West Nile virus in the state this year.

Experts say anyone experiencing symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, a stiff neck, confusion and lethargy should seek medical attention right away.

The department says the Chesapeake Mosquito Control Commission has been actively working to reduce mosquito populations to lower the risk of mosquito-borne diseases to humans and animals. Dreda A. Symonds, director of the commission, says most of the agency’s service requests are in responds to “very fast developing and aggressive mosquito species.” Although they are the biggest nuisance and the CMCC is spraying in high numbers, Symonds says they do not pose a disease risk.

Symonds says WNV mosquitoes are most active an hour after sunset and are most common in the city’s suburban areas.

Horse owners in areas that have tested positive for the disease have been notified, and they have also been strongly encouraged to vaccinate their animals.

Officials say the best prevention for these diseases is to avoid mosquito bites. The following tips can help you reduce the risk of being bitten:

  • Use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow directions on the label.
  • Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
  • Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Eliminate mosquito-breeding areas in your yard where rainwater collects. Turn over or empty bird baths, flower pots, buckets, or barrels. Clean roof gutters and downspout screens. Remove old tires from your yard. Eliminate standing water on flat roofs, boats or tarps. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when not in use.

For more information on how to prevent mosquito bites, click here and here.

To report a mosquito problem in the City of Chesapeake, click here.