Cumberland County horse put down after contracting deadly mosquito-borne virus

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cumberland County is reporting North Carolina's first case of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE), a rare brain disease, this year.

Health officials said an unvaccinated horse had to be euthanized after contracting the disease, which is carried by mosquitoes.

EEE causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

About 30% of people with EEE die, and those who survive have ongoing neurologic problems, the CDC reports.

Horses, people, and birds can become infected from the bite of a mosquito carrying the disease, but there is no evidence horses can transmit EEE through direct contact.

Horses are actually considered "dead-end" hosts for the virus.

Health officials said it's preventable in horses by vaccination.

People are encouraged to use protectants like DEET.

According to the CDC, only a few cases are reported in the United States each year. Most cases occur in eastern or Gulf Coast states.

In 2018, only six cases were reported in the U.S.

Seven cases have been reported in North Carolina from 2009-2018.
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