Virus fatal to horses and humans discovered in West Tennessee - News, Weather & Sports

Virus fatal to horses and humans discovered in West Tennessee

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture confirmed a virus known to be fatal to horses and humans has been found in a horse in West Tennessee.

A horse in Madison County tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and died, after contracting the virus that is fatal to 90 percent of the horses infected, according to the Department of Agriculture. 

"Although Tennessee has never had a documented human case of EEE, it is important for the public to remember mosquito-borne diseases, including EEE and West Nile virus, can occur each summer," medical entomologist Dr. Abelardo Moncayo said. "Fortunately, the prevent measures are similar for EEE and mosquito-borne diseases."

Officials are asking people to take precautions not only for themselves, but also for their horses.

"Horse owners should vaccinate their livestock annually and always watch for signs of illness," state veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher said.

Dr. Hatcher said horse owners should watch for signs such as your horse being lethargic, problems with eyesight, and unable to swallow. If horse owners see any of those signs with a horse, contact your veterinarian immediately.

There is no vaccine for humans, but officials said there are precautions everyone can take to decrease the risk.

Some of those recommendations are:

- Rid areas of any standing water. Tip over buckets or containers that collect standing water

- use mosquito 'dunks' to eliminate larvae in water troughs and ponds

- use mosquito repellant often when outdoors. TDH and Centers for Disease Control recommend DEET, Picardin, oil of lemon, ucalyptus, or para-menthane 3, 8-diol, and IR3535.

- wear long, loose, and light-colored shirts and pants. 

- wear socks and tuck shirts in pants. Tuck pants into your socks to help form a barrier against mosquito bits. 

- wear closed shoes or boots instead of sandals

- Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase pretreated clothing

- In remote areas that do not have window screens or air conditioning, use bed nets

- Avoid perfumes, colognes, and products with fragrances that might attract mosquitos

"We encourage Tennesseans to use preventive measures to avoid mosquito-borne diseases," Tennessee Department of Health Deputy State Epidemiologist John Dunn, DVM, PhD said. "With ongoing threats like EEE and West Nile virus, and new diseases like Zika virus, it's important to protect yourself and your family."

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