At the end of August, a horse in the town of Highgate, Vermont, was euthanized because it had contracted the mosquito-borne Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus and was quite ill. The Vermont Health Department confirmed that the horse was put down due to EEE.
The fact that the horse was diagnosed with EEE is a positive indicator that the virus is present in Franklin County and extra vigilance is required when it comes to mosquitoes.
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen said in a prepared statement,
People who live in Highgate are now considered to be at high risk for EEE, and people in Swanton are at increased risk as well. I strongly recommend that people living in the area take every precaution to avoid bites while mosquitoes are still active - until the first killing frost.
The EEE disease is spread to humans and horses through the bite of a blood-seeking, infected mosquito. In 2012, two people died of EEE – one in southern Addison county and the other in northern Rutland county.
The state of Vermont monitors swamps and wet areas that are choice breeding grounds for EEE-carrying mosquitoes, especially in Addison and Rutland counties. There is always a possibility that EEE and/or West Nile-infected mosquitoes may be in Franklin and Chittenden counties but have not yet been discovered.
State inhabitants are being advised by Dr. Chen to take all possible precautions and to limit their exposure during mosquitoes’ most active hours.
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