EEE virus kills Oswego County horse 9-3-14

Syracuse, N.Y. -- A horse in southern Oswego County has died of Eastern equine encephalitis virus, the first reported EEE horse death this year in the state.

The Oswego County Health Department said the horse had been stabled near an area known to harbor the EEE virus in Oswego and Onondaga counties. The horse was probably exposed to EEE in late July, prior to the aerial spraying of the Toad Harbor - Three Mile Bay Wild Management Area, according to the department.

Horses are very susceptible to EEE if they are not vaccinated. About 70 percent to 90 percent of all all horses infected with the virus die. No documentation has been found to indicate if horse had been properly vaccinated against EEE, according to the health department.

EEE is carried by mosquitoes. While there is a vaccine for horses, there is no human vaccine available to the public.

Human cases of EEE are rare, but very serious. About one-third of people infected with EEE die. An Onondaga County resident recently diagnosed with EEE is recovering from the virus. Five people in Central New York have died of EEE since 1971.

Both Oswego and Onondaga counties have recently done aerial spraying to combat mosquitoes. Onondaga plans to do ground spraying Monday and Tuesday in neighborhoods near the Cicero Swamp.

Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County's public health director, said more evidence of EEE was recently found in mosquitoes collected from the Toad Harbor-Three Mile Bay area.

"People need to be very careful about limiting their exposure to mosquitoes until later in the fall when there is a killing frost," Huang said.

The health department advised residents to use mosquito repellent when outdoors and take other protective measures.

You can contact health writer James T. Mulder at or (315) 470-2245. Follow him on Twitter @JamesTMulder