The Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit is alerting the public that two more Lanark County horses have recently tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV).
The health unit received confirmation of these infections from Public Health Ontario.
EEEV typically resides in wild bird populations but can occasionally be transmitted to horses and humans through mosquito bites from infected vectors. Much like West Nile Virus, human transmission occurs exclusively via mosquito bites and not through contact with horses or other humans. The mosquitoes carrying the virus are commonly found in proximity to flooded woodland areas.
Over the years, Ontario has recorded three instances of human infection with eastern equine encephalitis. While these occurrences are rare, EEEV can induce severe neurological illnesses, potentially leading to fatalities across all age groups.
While a vaccine against EEEV is available for horses, no such preventive measure exists for humans. Consequently, the Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit wishes to emphasize the importance of taking precautions against mosquito bites. Recent cases of EEE in horses have also been reported in Ottawa and Kawartha Lakes in recent months, prompting the health unit to urge residents throughout the region to safeguard themselves and their families from mosquito exposure.
To protect yourself and your loved ones, please consider the following precautions:
- Apply insect repellents containing DEET or icaridin, being sure to adhere to the recommended usage instructions. You may seek guidance from a pharmacist when selecting an appropriate repellent.
- Wear light-colored clothing, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks when spending time outdoors.
- Refrain from outdoor activities during the dawn and dusk hours when mosquitoes are most active.
- Regularly empty any containers in your yard, such as tires, pool covers, flowerpot saucers, wading pools, and children’s toys, to prevent the accumulation of standing water.
- Ensure that screens, windows, and doors are securely sealed to prevent mosquitoes from entering your residence.
For further information regarding the eastern equine encephalitis virus, please visit the Insect Bites and Diseases section on the Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit website or contact us at 1-800-660-5853. You can also stay updated on important developments by following @LGLhealthunit on social media.