For Immediate Release

August 18, 2000

Eastern Equine Encephalitis
Found in Cedar Creek

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been found in the Cedar Creek area of Cumberland County. The Public Health Pest Management Section of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported to the Cumberland County Health Department that serum collected by a local veterinarian from a horse in the Cedar Creek area tested positive for EEE.

EEE is mainly a bird disease. Occasionally, when mosquito populations grow very large, the disease can be transmitted to horses or humans. EEE is a very rare disease, but it can cause death in both humans and horses. About 50 percent of human cases of EEE are fatal. Young children and elderly people are most susceptible to the disease. Symptoms can develop from a few days to two weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito. They include rapid onset of fever and headache and can resemble a case of the flu. In some cases, the disease can progress causing tremors, convulsions, coma, and death. Survivors of EEE infections may suffer from long-term effects to the nervous system. Therapy is limited to treating the symptoms of the disease, but there is no specific cure. There is a vaccine for horses but not for humans.

It is advisable that people in the Cedar Creek area and throughout Cumberland County take the following precautions:

  1. Avoid mosquitoes whenever possible. Mosquitoes are most active outdoors in the morning and evening. If you must be out during this time it is advised that you wear long pants, long sleeves, socks, and a repellent. If mosquitoes are really "thick", the best place to be is indoors.
  2. Eliminate or reduce places where rainwater collects and stands. Fill all holes and depressions. Drain flowerpots, children's wading pools and toys. Flush birdbaths and fountains weekly. Clean clogged gutters and drains. Remove debris like cans bottles and old car tires.
  3. Organize and participate in neighborhood and area cleanups. Concentrate on water-holding debris like old car tires and containers.

For more information you can contact Mike Kirby, Environmental Health Supervisor (Vector Control), at (910) 433-3677.

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