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Encephalitis, West Nile seasons passes quietly

Earlier this year, officials were predicting a boom year for mosquito-transmitted diseases like the West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Luckily for McDuffie County, that boom turned out to be a bust.

The McDuffie County Health Department reported no positive cases of West Nile and only one confirmed case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in 2003.

Those numbers surprised McDuffie County Environmental Health Manager Tim Moseley.

"Everyone was predicting a worse year because of all the rain we had in the spring," he said. "I don't know, it could have been the public being so aware of it, and that helped, or it could be that it was just really light on us this year."

While no human cases of West Nile were recorded last year, one bird did test positive for the disease. This year, there were 25 reports of dead birds with no apparent cause of death -- a possible indication that they were infected with West Nile. Of those 25 reports, 13 were sent for testing. No tests came back positive.

Mr. Moseley warned that the year isn't over yet, and while most cases are reported during the summer, there is still a chance that the disease could pop up before the year is out.

"I don't anticipate any more cases this year, but you never know," he said.

While two cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis were reported by local veterinarians, only one of those reports was seen and confirmed by the McDuffie County Health Department.

Like West Nile, EEE is transmitted by mosquitoes. Unlike West Nile, however, horses are the disease's most frequent victims. The disease can infect humans, but no such cases were reported this year.

While West Nile and EEE cases are down, there have been two cases of rabies in the last month and a half. Both incidents involved rabid raccoons, and in an Oct. 30 case, a dog was attacked.

"Even if that dog is up to date on its shots, it's revaccinated, and the dog is held for 45 days," said Mr. Moseley.

So far, the dog has shown no signs of having contracted the disease. In the other incident, reported on Nov. 22, the Health Department received a call of a weaving, sick-looking raccoon. No other animals were involved.



Web posted on Thursday, December 11, 2003











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