TAMPA - A horse in Hillsborough County has been euthanized after contracting a rare, mosquito-borne illness, and health officials are advising residents and visitors to take precautions and avoid getting bit.
The Florida Department of Health confirmed today the horse had been infected with eastern equine encephalitis, most likely in mid-July.
EEE is a rare disease caused by a mosquito-transmitted virus that can cause inflammation of the brain. Only about five cases of EEE in humans are reported each year. It cannot be passed from person to person.
Hillsborough County has been under an advisory for mosquito-borne illnesses since March 25. The last human case of locally acquired EEE in Hillsborough County occurred that month. Symptoms can include fever, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.
Health Department officials says residents and visitors should take steps to avoid mosquito bites, including using repellent. They also recommend several measures to stop mosquitoes from living and multiplying around homes or businesses, like draining any standing water.
"Preventing mosquito bites can protect your health," said Dr. Douglas Holt, director of the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County. "That's why it's important for residents and visitors alike to protect themselves from mosquitoes and the illnesses they can transmit."
Health Department and county officials are working to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne disease throughout the county.