EEE Confirmed in Maryland Horse

A case of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has been confirmed in a horse in Worcester County, Md. EEE, like West Nile virus, is spread by mosquitoes. Officials remind Marylanders to take precautions to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites to prevent mosquito-borne diseases.

A viral disease, EEE affects the central nervous system and is transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes. Clinical signs of EEE include moderate to high fever, depression, lack of appetite, cranial nerve deficits (facial paralysis, tongue weakness, difficulty swallowing), behavioral changes (aggression, self-mutilation, or drowsiness), gait abnormalities, or severe central nervous system signs, such as head-pressing, circling, blindness, and seizures.

The course of EEE can be swift, with death occurring two to three days after onset of clinical signs despite intensive care; fatality rates reach 75-80% among horses. Horses that survive might have long-lasting impairments and neurologic problems.

While vaccination is the most effective tool for preventing equine EEE, owners can also protect their horses from infection by using an acceptable insect repellent seasonally and mechanical barriers such as fly sheets and masks. Changing out water troughs regularly and removing other items that hold water will help to reduce mosquito breeding areas.

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