Advisory issued after Tennessee horse tests positive for virus deadly to horses, humans

A horse in West Nashville has died after testing positive for "EEE," a virus fatal to horses and humans. (FILE: MGN Online Photo - Not photo of West Tennessee horse)

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture says a West Tennessee horse has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE, a virus fatal to horses and humans.

The department said mosquitoes transmit EEE. Humans can't contract these viral infections directly from infected horses, but, mosquito-borne diseases do pose a public health risk. The department is advising citizens to take precautions to protect themselves and their livestock.

“Although Tennessee has never had a documented human case of EEE, it is important for the public to remember mosquito-borne diseases including EEE and West Nile virus can occur each summer,” medical entomologist Dr. Abelardo Moncayo said. “Fortunately, the prevention measures are similar for EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

The horse in Madison County has died from the virus. The department said EEE kills up to 90 percent of affected horses. There is however, an EEE vaccine for horses that the department said is effective.

Here are some guidelines to go by to keep you safe:

• * Apply repellants to skin often. These can include lotions, liquids or sprays. TDH and the Centers for Disease Control recommend the use of repellants which contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane 3, 8-diol and IR3535. Duration of protection varies by repellant. Read labels on products to determine when reapplications are necessary for optimal protection. To learn more about insect repellants, visit

• * Wear long, loose and light-colored shirts and pants and wear socks. Tucking shirts in pants and tucking pants into socks will help form a barrier. Wear closed shoes or boots instead of sandals.

• * Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase clothing pretreated with permethrin.

• * In remote locations lacking window screens and/or air conditioning, the use of bed nets is advised. These should reach the floor or be tucked under the mattress.

• * Avoid perfumes, colognes and products with fragrances that might attract mosquitoes.

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