HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania departments of Agriculture and Health today reminded Pennsylvanians to take every possible precaution against mosquito bites for themselves and their animals, especially horses. Last month, the administration announced the confirmation of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a rare mosquito-transmitted viral infection, in Erie, Carbon, and Monroe counties. As of this week, new cases have been confirmed in both Luzerne and Mercer counties.
“Pennsylvanians need to be vigilant and do what they can to protect against this deadly disease,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “There is a very effective vaccine available for horses, these animals can be protected.”
EEE is a virus carried by birds. If a mosquito bites an infected bird it can then transmit the potentially fatal virus to humans, horses, and other birds. Because of the high mortality rate in horses and humans, EEE is regarded as one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.
“Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a very serious illness that is spread by mosquitoes,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It is essential that all Pennsylvanians protect themselves as they spend time outdoors. Residents should cover exposed skin, wear lightweight and light-colored clothing and use insect repellent containing 20 percent or more DEET. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and protect yourself and your family from mosquito-transmitted diseases.”
To date in Pennsylvania, the following animal mortalities have been confirmed to be a result of EEE:
- One wild turkey in Waterford Township, Erie County
- Two horses in Mahoning Township, Carbon County
- One horse in Fairmont Township, Luzerne County
- One horse in Sandy Lake Township, Mercer County
- Pheasants in Pocono Township, Monroe County
No human cases have been identified in Pennsylvania yet this year. Since earlier this week, the CDC has confirmed 30 cases nationwide with 11 confirmed deaths.
Pennsylvanians are encouraged to take every precaution to protect against this rare, neurological disease and immediately contact their physician or veterinarian if symptoms present.
–Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture