For the second time in two weeks, Polk County health officials have confirmed the mosquito borne virus, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in a mammal. Health officials say the both cases have been in horses.

Beautiful horses
Public domain image/Dusan Bicanski

This is the 13th mammal to be reported with EEE statewide.

EEE is a rare illness in humans, and only a few cases are reported in the United States each year. There have been no human cases of EEE in the state of Florida reported in 2015.

Residents are advised to avoid mosquito bites by taking the necessary precautions. “Avoiding mosquito bites is the key to preventing any type of mosquito-borne diseases,” said Dr. Ulyee Choe, Director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk. “Floridians and visitors are encouraged to take precautionary measures to help reduce the chance of being bitten. Remember to drain and cover.” In other words, drain standing water and keep skin and windows and doors covered.

Most persons infected with EEEV have no apparent illness. Severe cases of EEE (involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma.

There is no specific treatment for EEE. If you experience symptoms of eastern equine encephalitis, consult with your health care provider and protect yourself against further mosquito bites. Avoiding mosquito bites while you are sick will help to protect others from getting infected.