Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- People in Oswego County are now officially under a public health threat, following the death of a child, and now a dog, from Eastern Equine Encephalitis, better known as EEE.
The county is preparing to spray to control mosquitoes and avert another tragedy. However, there is still no set schedule for when spraying will start. Health officials say it will depend on weather conditions.
What we do know is that the first area to be targeted will be the Toad Harbor – Central Square area.
The focus now is on protection, for you and your family members, as well as your pets.
NewsChannel 9 spoke with the veterinarian who treated the dog who was sickened with EEE and she said it's extremely rare for an animal, other than a horse, to contract the virus. Second, she said in all the research and journals she's looked through, this was the first and only documented case she could find in New York State, which to her is worrisome.
Dr. Maureen Luschini, VMD with the Veterinary Medical Center of Central New York told NewsChannel 9, "The only publication out there affecting dogs is from Georgia, so to my knowledge this is the first time we have seen it this north."
It was just earlier this month when a young dog was admitted to the Veterinary Medical Center with signs and symptoms similar to EEE in humans. Days later it was euthanized. Doctors didn't know what they were dealing with until the test results came in.
Within 10 days of being bit by a mosquito with EEE, dogs will get a fever and loss of appetite. Twenty-four hours after that the symptoms will only get worse.
"Before we were never screening for this condition in dogs and dogs that present acute neurological signs, so it certainly raises a red flag," continued Dr. Luschini.
Even though Cathy Mitchell and her dogs live in a different county the news still creates some concern.
"My dogs swim almost everyday and of course when you're near water, you have mosquitoes, so hopefully the stuff I have on them will make a difference," Mitchell said.
Another woman we spoke with said she wants all counties to spray.
"They should be spraying in all area counties, definitely, so this doesn't happen again down the road. It's been serious enough all summer long, they should be doing something about it," Joanne Brilbeck said.
Veterinarians caution against using repellents on your dog or pet, since it can be toxic. They say the best thing to do is keep your dog away from areas that have stagnant water or keep them inside, especially if they are outside a lot.
Below is an Alert from the Veterinary Medical Center and Dr. Luschini:
A young male puppy presented to VMC's Emergency Service two weeks ago with a history of lethargy, anorexia, fever and seizures. The patient presented recumbent and febrile (temperature of 105 F) with cluster seizures. He was tachypneic with harsh lung sounds in all fields. Neurologic exam revealed meiosis OU, rotary nystagmus OU and muscle tremors (particularly of the face). A complete blood count and chemistry panel showed no significant abnormalities. The patient lived in a kennel environment and, due to concern for the rest of the dogs in that home, this patient was euthanized and submitted to Cornell for a necropsy. Diagnostics returned with a definitive diagnosis of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
To my knowledge, there has not yet been a case report of EEE in a dog in New York State. This dog lived in a kennel in Oswego County, the same county where a young child recently died from EEE. Please be on high alert for this fatal disease among your canine patients presenting with acute neurologic signs including stupor, ataxia and depression, especially in young patients (less than 6 month of age) or in dogs that live mostly outdoors. Earlier signs include fever, depression, and anorexia, but progression to neurologic signs is rapid. Serology and PCR are possible antemortem diagnostics, but viral isolation from affected tissues (i.e. the brain) is the gold standard. Should you suspect you have a case, contact the Cornell University Diagnostic Laboratory at 607-253-3900 and the State Health Department for further information.
I would be interested in knowing if any of you encounter suspected or confirmed cases in your practices.