Dead Horse had encephalitis, test confirms
Health officials have confirmed a case of Eastern equine encephalitis in a local horse, prompting reminders to east Pasco residents to protect themselves against mosquito-borne diseases. The disease was found in a Dade City horse that had been euthanized, said Deanna Krautner, spokeswoman for the Pasco County Health Department. "Although cases of (Eastern equine encephalitis) are rare in humans, if a person gets sick with the disease it is often serious and can even be fatal," said county health officer Dr. David Johnson. He suggested residents use insect repellent, wear protective clothing and stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active. Most people infected with the virus will have no symptoms. But in severe cases, a person can suffer an inflammation of the brain, with symptoms including headache, chills, high fever and vomiting. The illness may progress into disorientation, seizures or coma. Anyone with symptoms should consult a medical professional.
NEW PORT RICHEY
Landscaper bilked them, clients say
A 34-year-old landscaper has been accused of accepting $456 from three people without performing the yard work he promised. Travis Matthew Tipton told the customers he would trim trees and shrubs, pull weeds, clean up flower beds and perform other yard work, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. But he cashed their checks without doing the work, deputies said. In one case, deputies said, he told a woman he needed a second check for $100 because the first one she gave him was destroyed in the wash. She later discovered Tipton cashed both checks, the sheriff's report said. Tipton, of 7215 Steven Lane in Hudson, was charged with scheme to defraud and is being held in lieu of $10,000 bail. Court records show his prior convictions include grand theft and organized fraud. In one case, he took a $400 deposit to paint a Spring Hill house — then never returned to do the work.
Office manager guilty of theft
A former dental office manager who bilked her employer out of more than $15,000 pleaded guilty in court Friday and was sentenced to five years' probation. Sheriff's investigators said Jessica Santana-Courtney, 4206 Branchside Lane in Wesley Chapel, asked patients at Coast Dental in Zephyrhills to pay for their visits in cash. Then she billed their insurance companies and pocketed the extra money. The thefts happened during a six-month span ending in June 2009, when a patient asked about an insurance bill. The office did its own investigation, and Santana-Courtney, 34, was fired, a Sheriff's Office report said. She pleaded guilty to grand theft and was ordered to repay $15,744.14 in restitution to Coast Dental.