Horse Owners Encouraged to Vaccinate Against EEE

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension
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RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently confirmed the fifth and sixth positive cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis for 2017. The cases were discovered in a 6-year-old mare pony in Bladen County and a 5-year-old gelding American Quarter horse in Camden County. Both animals had no vaccination history.

“EEE is a mosquito-borne disease that causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord in equine and is usually fatal,” Troxler said. “The disease is preventable by vaccination. If you haven’t already had your horses, mules and donkeys vaccinated, contact your veterinarian to make sure your animals are protected.”

There were nine recorded cases of EEE in horses in North Carolina in 2016. “As long as mosquitoes are active, the threat remains,” said State Veterinarian Doug Meckes.

Symptoms of EEE include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to 10 days for symptoms to appear.

“If your horses or other equine animals exhibit any symptoms of EEE, contact your veterinarian immediately,” Meckes said.

People, horses, and birds can become infected from a bite by a mosquito carrying the disease, and there is no evidence that horses can transmit the viruses to other horses, birds or people through direct contact.

— North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services