Important Horse Health Alerts

EEE notice 072719




What Are Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV)?

Both of these diseases are viruses spread by mosquitoes that bite birds. This means that EVERY horse, whether in a big barn or a back yard, is at risk for exposure to these two diseases.
Once a horse is infected with either disease, they will usually run a fever and start showing neurologic signs. For EEE, these signs often include altered mentation (being out of it), pressing their head against a wall, circling, not wanting to eat, trouble swallowing, difficulty walking or standing, seizures and death. The signs of WNV are less severe and include fever, difficulty walking in one or more limbs, depression, not wanting to eat, tremors, over-reacting to their environment, and tongue and facial paralysis.
Of the horses infected with EEE, 90% will die. Of the horses infected with WNV, usually only between one third to a half will die of the disease. If you notice that your horse has a fever ( temperature over 101.5F) or is demonstrating any other unusual behavior it is important to call the veterinarian immediately.


Protecting your Horse from EEE and WNV

There are a few ways to protect your horse from EEE and WNV:

  1. Vaccinate. Vaccinate. Vaccinate. Vaccines for EEE and WNV are highly effective and should be given EVERY YEAR. We encourage our clients to vaccinate for these diseases between April 15- June 15 every year so that your horse's immunity is highest when mosquitoes are most active. These vaccines quickly lose effectiveness after 12 months.
  2. Practice mosquito control at your farm. Eliminate standing water in the barn, fields, and anywhere near your horses. There are natural pesticides to kill mosquito larvae that will not harm horses. Provide fans where horses can stand in the shade. Mosquitoes do not like the moving air.
  3. Do not turn out your horse in the evening when mosquitoes are most active.

If your horse is showing signs of EEE or WNV, your veterinarian will likely take a blood test to determine if he does have these diseases. Unfortunately, a number of serious illness can look like EEE and WNV, including rabies, EHV-1, EPM, and others. Because both EEE and WNV are caused by viruses, THERE IS NO CURE . Veterinarians can provide supportive care and help your horse feel better while he battles these viruses, but ultimately, it is up to the horse's immune system to combat these diseases. Vaccination gives a horse a much better chance of survival . 

If you have questions about vaccination or think your horse may have EEE or WNV, please call our office immediately at 609-291-0535 or contact us through our website here.


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