It’s shaping up to be an active mosquito season, so if you haven’t already, break out the bug spray.
A little over a week after the West Nile virus was detected in a human in Beaufort County and in mosquitoes in Chatham County, a new mosquito-borne virus has been confirmed in the area.
On Tuesday, Chatham County Mosquito Control confirmed that Eastern equine encephalitis was found in western Chatham County, according to a Coastal Health District news release.
EEE, which causes swelling of the brain, is fatal 70 percent to 90 percent of the time in horses.
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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 mosquito breeding, according to the news release.
No human cases of EEE have been reported in Georgia this year, but humans are susceptible to EEE.
In response to confirmation of a recent human case of West Nile in Beaufort County, Gregg Hunt, Beaufort County Mosquito Control director, told The Island Packet that the outbreak of mosquito-borne viruses in the area is tied to the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
“Hurricane Matthew has played a major role in what we’re seeing,” Hunt said.
“After Hurricane Matthew, a lot of debris had fallen into standing water caused by the flooding and tidal waves,” he said. “And organic material decaying in the water produces an ideal breeding ground for that kind of mosquito (that carries West Nile). ... That’s what set the tone after the hurricane.”
According to Hunt, the mosquitoes and breeding habitats are very similar in Charleston, Beaufort and Chatham counties, so it makes sense that the other counties are seeing similar affects from the hurricane.
In order to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne viruses such as EEE and West Nile, Coastal Health District recommends eliminating standing water around your home and yard, tipping over birdbaths, using insect repellents and wearing light-colored clothing that covers your skin.