The Beaufort County Health Department is urging people to take additional precautions to prevent mosquito bites after a sentinel chicken tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis and two horses had to be euthanized because of EEE.
Spraying to help control mosquito populations is continuing across the county. Areas are being prioritized by locations that are seeing the greatest activity.
EEE is a rare disease. The viral illness, transmitted by some species of mosquitoes, attacks the central nervous system, causes inflammation of the brain and can be fatal to animals and humans. Wild birds serve as reservoirs for the virus. Mosquitoes bite the birds and then can transmit the virus to humans and animals.
North Carolina averages about one human case of EEE and about 10 equine cases each year. About fifty percent of human EEE cases are fatal, with young children and the elderly most at risk.
Symptoms include rapid onset of fever and headache and can resemble a case of the flu. Survivors of EEE infections may suffer from long-term effects to the nervous system.
The health department says the best defense for people against EEE infection is to avoid mosquito bites. Reduce time spent outdoors, particularly in early morning and early evening hours when mosquitoes are most active; wear light-colored long pants and long-sleeved shirts; and apply mosquito repellent.