The first ever case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) was detected in a horse in Bedford Friday, county and state health officials are reporting.
EEE is a mosquito-borne disease that causes neurological symptoms, but is rarely transmitted to humans. The infected horse has been put down.
The horse was privately-owned, and had recently traveled out of state to a location where the disease is more common, officials said.
"This is a serious disease in horses, but the risk to people is quite low," said Dr. Douglas Aspros, president of the Westchester County Board of Health and a veterinarian. "The viruses that cause this disease and other related diseases are responsible for only sporadic illness, and only occasionally are cases reported in horses and birds in southern New York State. This infection is unusual in animals and it is even rarer for it to cause illness in people.’"
The horse's stable was later checked for lingering mosquitoes, and deemed to be safe.
There has never been a human case of EEE in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Sullivan, Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Nassau and Suffolk counties, health officials told Patch.
"There were just two human cases of EEE in New York from 1964 to 2004, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta," local officials added in a press release.
Authorities are urging mosquito safety following the news.
"To protect against all mosquito-borne diseases, residents should continue to remove standing water on their property, use insect repellents with DEET according to the label instructions and take other appropriate precautions to reduce their risk of mosquito bites," said Rick Morrissey, deputy commissioner for environmental health.
For more information on the department’s larviciding and mosquito prevention activities, call the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000 or visit www.westchestergov.com/health.