NOBLE COUNTY — The Indiana State Department of Health will be overseeing aerial mosquito spraying in three northern Indiana counties to help combat the spread of the deadly virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
The ISDH is partnering with local health departments in Elkart, LeGrange and Noble counties, where the spraying will take place. The department says an applicator that has been certified for aerial pesticide application by the state's chemist's office will be completing the spraying.
Megan Wade-Taxter with ISDH says the those three counties have been chosen to recieve the spraying based on mosquito and horse data from the area.
So far infected mosquitoes have only been found in Elkhart County, although at least 11 horses in Elkhart and LeGrange counties have been infected by the virus and 10 of those horses have died.
"The flight range of the mosquitoes is up to five miles," Wade-Taxter said. "Part of the 5-mile radius around LeGrange horses overlapped into Noble County. That's why they were offered assistance too."
The spraying will happen on Wednesday, October 2 at dusk, weather permitting. Thursday, October 3 has been scheduled as a backup day in case weather or rain prevents the spraying.
The state health department requested and was awarded emergency funding from the CDC in response to the threat of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, according to Mega Watde-Taxter with ISDH.
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On average, around seven cases of EEE are reported in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC, and most of those cases occur in the eastern or Gulf Coast states. The positive tests in northern Indiana come in the wake of at least seven human deaths — including three in Michigan — from the disease so far this year, and reports that at least 27 people have tested positive for the disease in six states.
The incubation period for EEEV disease ranges from four to 10 days from the date a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, according to the CDC. An EEEV infection can result in two types of illness, either systemic or encephalitic, depending on the person's age and a number of other factors.
In humans, the virus invades the central nervous system and causes inflammation in the brain. About 30% of people who contract EEE die, and many of those who survive have ongoing neurological problems, according to the CDC .
Symptoms of EEE are similar to that of the flu and include:
· Sudden onset of headache
· High fever
· More severe symptoms of EEE include: