BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A horse in the town of Highgate was euthanized after it became ill from the mosquito-borne illness Eastern equine encephalitis, the Vermont Health Department said Wednesday.
The death of the horse indicates that the virus that causes the disease, known as EEE, is now present in Franklin County.
"People who live in Highgate are now considered to be at high risk for EEE, and people in Swanton are at increased risk as well," Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen, said in a statement. "I strongly recommend that people living in the area take every precaution to avoid bites while mosquitoes are still active - until the first killing frost."
The horse was euthanized on Aug. 30.
The disease is transmitted to humans and some animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. Last year, two people who lived in the southern Addison County and northern Rutland County died of EEE.
Chen said it's important to keep taking precautions against mosquitoes until the first hard frost, which may not take place for another month in some parts of the state.
The state is monitoring swamps favored by mosquitoes that carry EEE in the Addison-Rutland county areas. There is limited surveillance in Franklin and Chittenden counties, so it's possible that EEE and West Nile virus are present in other parts of the state.