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2001/08/14

West Niles Virus And EEE Cases Confirmed In Florida by Kevin DeBusk Florida officials confirmed its second case of Encephalitis caused by West Nile Virus (WN) in humans, July 28. This came on the heels of their first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) this year, causing a medical alert for 28 north Florida counties. This alert urges all Floridians and visitors to take precautions against mosquito bites. EEE and WN are not considered a major problem in the Mid-South. Since 1964 there has been 153 confirmed cases of EEE in the United States. Four of those occurred in Mississippi, in 1997. Both viruses are mosquito-borne and transmittable to equine and human. While WN isn't as life threatening both attacks the central nervous system and requires immediate attention. Symptoms of WN include fever, headache and body aches, often with skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More serious infections may include high fever, tremors, muscle weakness and coma. In the most extreme cases hospitalization may be required. Symptoms of EEE are high fever, stiff neck headache, coma and lack of energy. EEE require hospitalization. "The frequency of West Nile Virus in terms of horses hasn't been that high in the Northeast," Tennessee State Veterinarian D.V.M. Ronald B. Wilson said. "By enlarge the virus infects birds; Crows and Blue Jays. "To date we haven't had any cases. We've looked at a few horses and thus far those have uniformly been negative." He continued saying; "It's following a pattern down the East Coast. Georgia and Florida were new this year. If not this year it may move westward next year. Fortunately, there seems to be a developing program for a horse vaccine. There is one now that is conditionally approved by the FDA." In the future he sees producers vaccinating for WN and EEE at the same time. Controlling mosquito habitat leads to prevention. These habitats include anything that holds stagnant water; i.e. old tires and troughs not in use. "Get rid of those," he said. When traveling screening stalls and use sprays are suggested. It's also suggested riders avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active, and cover up.

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