La. Horse Owners Urged to Prepare for EEE, WNV

As summer approaches and mosquitoes become more prevalent, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry is urging horse owners to vaccinate their animals for both Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus (WNV).

Commissioner Mike Strain, DVM, said, “While many horses have been tested throughout the state, we have not found any animals that are positive for either disease. However, recent tests by the Louisiana Office of Public Health have indicated that a mosquito pool has tested positive in West Baton Rouge Parish so it is important for horse owners to be proactive to prevent the virus from spreading. Horses are infected the same way humans are infected—by being bitten by infected mosquitoes—so everyone needs to take extra precautionary measures at this time.”

If a mosquito bites an infected bird, it can spread EEE or WNV to horses, dogs, cats and humans. These mosquito-transmitted diseases can cause inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

Prevention methods include avoiding mosquitoes, removing standing water from properties, and using mosquito repellants that are safe for horses and humans. Horses can also be vaccinated against both diseases. There is no vaccination approved for people. Horse owners should contact their veterinarian regarding proper vaccination protocol during this time of increased risk.

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