Learning about the Risks of EEE

By Christine Souders | csouders@nexstar.tv

Published 04/10 2014 10:30PM

Updated 04/10 2014 10:35PM

SWANTON, VT- It's a disease carried by mosquitos, EEE.

And if spread to horses, livestock, or even humans, it can be deadly.

Public health officials are warning people about the risks, and what can be done to prevent it.

EEE is most commonly known to kill birds, but last summer two horses died in Franklin County.

Wednesday night, an informational meeting was held in Swanton.

People who attended made it clear it's hard not to be worried, when it's that close to home,

A case of EEE was confirmed by state health leaders last summer, when a horse named Breeze died on a Highgate Vermont farm.

David Supernault said he fears this could happen to his horses, "There's a lot of mosquitoes by our place because we have a swamp at the end of our woods. So I just don't want anything to heppen. I want to prevent it from happening."

But knowing that EEE could reach humans is even more concerning.

"Our kids are out there, outside, in the the woods, in the fields. I think there needs to be much more information gotten out to parents and schools about these things," said Linda Chaim, Franklin/Northwest Special Education Supervisor.

That's why experts at the Health Department and Agency of Agriculture are explaining their plans to people in the community about trapping and testing mosquitoes.

Starting this June, epidemiologists will conduct survellance for human and animal illness throughout the summer.

"We want them to vaccinate their horses, but hopefully we were able to impart to them, we just want people to take reasonable precaustions to prevent mosquito bites," said Erica Berl, Epidemiologist.

In 2012, two people died in Rutland County.

"In Franklin County we've never documented a human case, but the fact that there were horse cases last year are concerning because horses are mammals like people are. So if horses are getting the virus, it's possible people can also," said Berl.

State Veterinerian Kristin Haas said it's important to pay attention to the signs, "Certainly it's worth keeping a close eye on your horses for any signs of illness that are neurologic, or cause stumbling around."

"There's still a lot of people and parents not aware of this. It's something very new to have this type of insect-borne illnesess," said Chaim.

Health Officals said although the mosquitoes aren't out yet, but when the bugs are, general precautions are necessary: like wearing repellents, and not being outside during peak mosquito hours.

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