BARRON COUNTY -- A horse in Barron County has tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE). Wisconsin has only had three cases of human EEE between 1964 and 2017. Wisconsin has had no cases of EEE in humans reported so far this year.
Infected mosquitoes can spread EEE virus to humans, horses, and other animals. Mosquitoes get EEE virus by feeding on infected birds. The virus does not spread person to person or directly between animals or between animals and humans. Presence of an EEE positive horse shows that there are EEE infected mosquitoes in the area. There is a risk that these infected mosquitoes could spread EEE to people and other animals.
Many people infected with EEE virus do not get sick. EEE often begins with the sudden start of fever, headache, chills, and vomiting. The illness may become severe resulting in confusion, seizures, coma, or death. There is no specific treatment for EEE illness.
Signs of EEE infection in horses include depression, loss of appetite, drooping eyelids and lower lip, blindness, paralysis, and death. Horse owners can vaccinate their horses against EEE virus to protect them from becoming ill.
Residents and visitors should take steps to prevent mosquito bites. Barron County Public Health offers these tips to protect yourself and your family against mosquito bites:
- Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk. Mosquitoes are most active at these times.
- Apply an insect repellant with DEET, IR3535, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to exposed skin and clothing.
- Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.
- Prevent mosquitoes from breeding by removing standing water from items around your property. Items such as tin cans, plastic containers, flowerpots, discarded tires, roof gutters, and downspouts may provide breeding areas.
- Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats, and canoes when not in use.
- Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every three days.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs. Drain water from pool covers.
- Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas, and trim tall grass, weeds, and vines. Mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
For more information about EEE virus, please visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/mosquito/eee.htm