Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus Detected in DeKalb County

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DECATUR, Ga. – The DeKalb County Board of Health has identified Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus at one of its mosquito surveillance sites in the southern part of the county. EEE is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. EEE is a bird disease that is occasionally found in horses and rarely in humans.

To reduce the potential for EEE, West Nile Virus (WNV) and other mosquito-borne diseases, the Board of Health conducts a comprehensive mosquito control program. Throughout the county, technicians routinely trap mosquitoes that are tested for viruses. They also work with residents to eliminate mosquito breeding locations. Measures include placing larvicide in areas with standing water, like in storm drains, which keeps young mosquitoes from becoming flying, biting adults.

While most people who are infected with EEE have no symptoms, some individuals get a flu-like illness with fever, headache, and sore throat. In severe cases, EEE can cause brain swelling and affect the central nervous system. There is no specific treatment for EEE; care is based on symptoms.

The most effective way to protect against EEE and WNV infection, and all mosquito-borne diseases, is to prevent mosquito bites. Observe the “Five D’s of Prevention” during outdoor activities:

  • Dusk/Dawn – Mosquitoes carrying mosquito-borne diseases usually bite at dusk and dawn, so avoid or limit outdoor activity at these times.
  • Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long sleeve shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
  • DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites. Other repellents that are recommended for use contain picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, and IR3535.
  • Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water, because they are excellent breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes. Cut back tall grass, weeds and vines where mosquitoes like to rest.
  • Doors – Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly, and fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.

Horse owners are encouraged to vaccinate their animals against both EEE and WNV and to clean out watering sources, such as buckets and troughs, every three to four days to prevent mosquito breeding.

For more information about mosquito-borne illnesses, contact the DeKalb County Board of Health’s Environmental Health division at (404) 508-7900 or visit www.dekalbhealth.net/envhealth.