Mosquito advisory issued: Horse virus rears its ugly head in SDG

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By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario - The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is warning residents to cover up and wear mosquito repellent after officials confirmed a contagious horse virus has surfaced in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (SDG).

The health unit announced that a horse virus (EEEV) has surfaced in SDG.

EOHU confirmed this week an SDG horse tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV).

The virus can spread to horses and humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. While a vaccine exists for the animals, there's nothing that can be done to inoculate the rest of us.

“Although there’s never been a reported human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus in Ontario, it’s a very serious disease in all ages and can even cause death," said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health. "For this reason, we urge all residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites."

Signs and symptoms of EEEV usually appear four to 10 days after an infected mosquito bites a person. Although, most people bitten won’t have any symptoms. Meanwhile, others will only get a mild flu-like illness with fever, headache and fatigue.

Severe cases of the virus involve encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain), which starts with a sudden headache, high fever, chills and vomiting. Of those cases, many will suffer permanent brain damage. The chance of survival is approximately 33 per cent.

Take action against the virus with this list of helpful tips provided by the EOHU:

Apply insect repellent containing DEET to clothing and on all exposed skin. (Don’t apply it on the palms of your hands and your fingers, and keep it away from your eyes and mouth. Wash your hands after application).

Wear light-coloured clothing, long sleeves, pants and socks when outside.

Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn, as mosquitoes are the most active at that time.

Ensure that all containers in or around the yard such as tires, pool covers, saucers for flowerpots, wading pools and children's toys are regularly emptied of standing water.

Ensure that screens, windows and doors are fully sealed to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house.  

For detailed information on EEEV, check out www.eohu.ca/_files/eeev.pdf.

The EOHU can be reached at 613-933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120 (ask for Health Line).

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