VT Officials Urging Horse Owners to Vaccinate For EEE & West Nile

Published 03/21 2014 12:53PM

Updated 03/21 2014 12:55PM

MONTPELIER, Vt. -  Vermont officials are urging horse owners to vaccinate for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus. 

A press release says EEE is a mosquito-borne viral infection that can cause severe neurologic disease in horses, with mortality rates approaching 100%. Animals usually develop symptoms three to ten days after a bite by an infected mosquito.

“This is the time of the year when horse owners should be consulting with their veterinarians to ensure that their horses are appropriately vaccinated for EEE and WNV”, says Dr. Kristin Haas, Vermont State Veterinarian. “A horse’s susceptibility to EEE and WNV infection is not linked to travel to shows, fairs or other commingling events. We know that both viruses are present in Vermont, so even horses that spend the majority of their time on isolated properties are susceptible and should be vaccinated.”

 A press release says mammals infected with EEE usually show symptoms of neurologic signs including ataxia or incoordination, inability to stand, limb weakness or paralysis, seizures and death. West Nile Virus can cause similar symptoms but are often less severe and mortality rates are generally lower than EEE.

Officials say mammals infected with EEE or West Nile virus generally are unable to transmit the disease to other animals or people. 

Vermont cases of EEE and West Nile Virus are required to be reported to the Office of the State Veterinarian. 

Owner can also protect their animals from infection by using insect repellent, mechanical barriers like fly sheet and face nets, and changing out water troughs to reduce mosquito breeding areas.

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