Man's arrest uncovers horse with EEE

Mosquito-borne illness advisory issued for Columbia County


COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – The arrest of a Columbia County man who deputies said failed to properly care for several horses on his property has led to health officials issuing a mosquito-borne illness advisory.

Jeffery Brown was arrested Friday at the property on Northwest The Lords Court. Brown was booked into the Columbia County Detention Facility on two counts of animal cruelty and nine counts of animal neglect. He was being held on $65,000.

The horses were seized and impounded so they could receive proper care.

Deputies said their investigation began in mid-July when they were called to an address to check on horses that had wandered onto the neighboring property looking for water.

Detectives said they found several horses suffering from illnesses such as "dew poisoning" and "rain rot." Deputies said one horse had injuries consistent with being caught in a fence and required medical attention, and another one was down with an unknown debilitating illness.

A veterinarian responded and evaluated the injured and downed horse, then took a blood sample. The veterinarian said the horse was suffering and recommended it be euthanized.

The blood sample revealed the horse had Eastern equine encephalitis, a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. It cannot be transmitted horse to horse or horse to human. Another horse in Columbia County has also tested positive for EEE this year.

Although EEE is a health risk to humans, the disease is extremely rare in the U.S., with five to 10 cases reported annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of EEE in humans may include headache, fever, fatigue, dizziness, weakness and confusion. Physicians should contact the local county health department if they suspect an individual may have a mosquito-borne disease.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes, you should remember "Drain and Cover":

Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pet's water bowls at least once or twice a week.
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don't accumulate water.
  • Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

Cover skin with clothing or repellent.

  • Clothing - Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • Repellent - Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
  • Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are effective.
  • Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.

Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.

  • Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

Tips on repellent use

  • Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.
  • Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET are generally recommended. Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
  • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the CDC, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of three years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old.
  • Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child's skin and clothing.
  • If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer's directions.