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Georgia resident dies from mosquito-carried horse virus

A female Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito on the skin of a human host. The mosquito’s...
A female Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito on the skin of a human host. The mosquito’s red-colored abdomen is filling with blood.(James Gathany/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 12:28 PM EDT
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LIBERTY COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - A Liberty County resident has died after contracting eastern equine encephalitis.

The virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, according to the Coastal Health District.

The district stated that the mosquito-borne virus causes swelling of the brain. It is fatal 70 to 90 percent of the time in horses, according to the health district. Horse and large animal owners are encouraged to vaccinate their animals against the virus and to clean out watering sources, such as buckets and troughs, every three to four days to prevent mosquitoes from breeding there.

Infection is rare in humans, but they are susceptible to the virus. Previously, there have been two cases in the eight-county Coastal Health District since 2010, with one death in 2018.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people infected with the virus do not show illness. Symptoms in severe cases of include a sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The primary mosquito that transmits the virus breeds in freshwater swamps.

Residents are always encouraged to follow these rules of mosquito bite prevention:

  • Avoid dusk and dawn activities during the summer when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeve shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
  • Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
  • Empty any containers holding standing water - buckets, barrels, flowerpots, tarps - because they are breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
  • Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly, and fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.

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