Equine EEE Reported in Florida, New Hampshire

Equine EEE Reported in Florida, New Hampshire

Commercial vaccinations are available to help prevent horses from contracting EEE.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Officials in Florida and New Hampshire have reported that horses in both states have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).

On Oct. 5, the Jackson County, Fla., Health Department issued a public information bulletin indicating a horse residing between the towns of Malone and Campbellton had tested positive for EEE. More than 30 Florida horses have tested positive for EEE so far in 2013.

Meanwhile, further north, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced Oct. 8 that a horse residing in Deerfield had tested positive for EEE. This is the third EEE case confirmed in New Hampshire horses this year.

A viral disease, EEE affects the central nervous system and is transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes. Its fatality rate in horses is 75-95%. The course of EEE can be swift, with death occurring two to three days after onset of clinical signs despite intensive care. Horses that survive might have long-lasting impairments and neurologic problems.

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.

Commercial vaccinations are available to help prevent horses from contracting EEE. In the northern regions of the United States, most veterinarians recommend vaccinating horses in the spring prior to peak mosquito levels. In the south, where mosquito populations are present year-round, veterinarians might recommend more frequent vaccination. The EEE vaccine is on the American Association of Equine Practitioners' list of core vaccines, which are those considered important for every horse to have annually, regardless of geographic location or athletic use.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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