The Coastal Health District is alerting residents of Chatham, Effingham, and Bryan Counties to take precautions against mosquito bites after a chicken in the area tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Chatham County Mosquito Control routinely tests mosquitos and chickens throughout the county, checking for the presence of viruses like EEE and West Nile that can be transmitted to humans through mosquito bites.
Mosquito control was notified of a positive test result in a chicken on June 30, 2023. The chicken was located in the Bloomingdale area of Chatham County, near the border with Effingham and Bryan Counties. Mosquito control has been spraying in the area to reduce the mosquito population and will continue to do so.
EEE is a mosquito-borne virus that causes swelling of the brain. In horses, it is fatal 70 to 90 percent of the time. 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.
Although rare in humans, EEE can be very serious. Most people infected with EEE do not show illness, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, severe cases can cause ongoing neurologic problems and death. Symptoms in severe cases of EEE include a sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. There are no vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat EEE.
You can reduce your risk of infection with EEE virus by following the 5Ds of mosquito bite prevention:
- Dusk/Dawn – Avoid dusk and dawn activities during the summer when mosquitoes are most active.
- Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
- DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
- Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water – buckets, barrels, flowerpots, tarps – because they are breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
- Doors – 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.