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Residents concerned after virus kills horse

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MAUREPAS - Maurepas residents are concerned about mosquitoes after a horse died of Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The horse also tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

"It causes inflammation in the brain just like it would in people, and it causes them to have tremors. It can cause stupor, or it can cause them to have convulsions - it could cause them to die," said equine veterinarian Rebecca McConnico.

The viruses can be prevented in horses but not humans.

"The best way to prevent it in the horse is to have the horse vaccinated. The best way to prevent it in people is to decrease the mosquitoes in your area," said McConnico.

Livingston Parish Mosquito Abatement says they spray the Maurepas area around three times a month. The problem is that the homes are surrounded with mosquito breeding areas.

"Maybe I'd kill 50,000 mosquitoes, but tomorrow night there would probably be just as many back in there because they'll fly in out of the marsh and wooded area," said Livingston Mosquito Abatement Director Jeanine Tessmer.

Residents say they take all the steps to control the number of mosquitoes like emptying out standing water and keeping the grass cut.

"We will be more cautionary... we'll watch our horse closer. As far as doing any other preventatives, I don't know what else we could do," said Connie Hanna.

Tessmer suggests wearing long sleeved clothing and mosquito repellent to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. This case was the first reported case of EEE and West Nile Virus, according to Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain.

Strain says the horse that died was not vaccinated, which could have prevented the death.



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