Orange County Mosquito Control District confirms viral activity

Published 2:42 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Special to The Leader


The Orange County Mosquito Control District’s office was notified by the Texas Department of State Health Services that a horse from the Vidor area has tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis. The horse was pastured in the northern part of Vidor, North of I-10 and West of Hwy 105. According to the report received it is not clear whether or not the animal had been vaccinated for EEE and as a result had to be euthanized.

Eastern equine encephalitis more commonly occurs in the Eastern part of the United States, as it’s name implies. Texas is along the outer fringe of the disease’s range, but this disease is one that we must be mindful of and monitor for. Horses can become infected with, and die from EEE virus infection. It is also a potential threat to humans with a 1/3 mortality rate, if contracted. It is normally transmitted from bird to mosquito to bird. The bird to bird cycle is typically maintained by the culiseta melanura, species of mosquito that breeds in fresh water swamps. This particular mosquito species generally does not extend out more than ½ a mile from it’s larval site in shaded swamp pools. It is active both in the morning and evening hours. This species rarely bites people or horses. A vaccine for EEE has been available for horses for years, this vaccine is usually given with other vaccinations for diseases, most commonly Western equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. There is not a vaccine for humans. Infection in humans is rare, and if contracted treatment usually centers on the symptoms and complications.

Horses are usually keep outdoors seven days a week, 24 hours a day, so they are exposed to lots of things, one of which are mosquito bites. And our area is going to have mosquitoes. We have a lot of water not only surrounding our area but throughout that breeds mosquitoes and we are going to have to deal with these insects. So, if horses aren’t vaccinated then eventually some of them will come down with one of these mosquito-borne diseases.

Although mosquito populations have been low in the area in which the horse was pastured, we have stepped up our spray operations in the immediate and surrounding areas. The Mosquito Control District will continue trapping and collecting mosquitoes from the area to determine whether or not viral activity is still exists.

Residents need to protect themselves by taking personal protective measures like avoiding outdoor activity, if possible, when mosquito activity is on the rise and using an EPA approved insect repellent when mosquito activity is present. Always read and follow label directions when using repellants

Other personal protective measures to reduce exposure to mosquitoes are moving indoors at dust and dawn when many mosquito species are most active, wearing light colored loose fitting clothing as a physical barrier from the mosquito and draining standing water from property including empty cans, buckets, tires, rain gutters, tree holes and saucers placed under potted plants regularly. Change water in pet bowls, birdbaths and wading pools several times a week.

Keep mosquitoes out of your house by making sure that window and door screens are in good condition.

Horse owners should vaccinate their animals annually for Eastern , Western and Venezuelan equine encephalitis as well as West Nile virus.