EEE In South Carolina

Encephalitis has plagued the East Coast in 2000, with South Carolina the latest state under attack. South Carolina's bout with at least nine cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) had horse owners on the defensive this fall.

"We have EEE cases every year, in horses and occasionally in emus or quail," said Venaye P. Reece, DVM, Equine Programs Coordinator with Clemson University Livestock-Poultry Health in Columbia. "This has been a medium year (in number of cases)," she added.

"We make an effort to test horses dying with central nervous system signs because of the possibility not only of EEE, but also to rule out rabies, and, for this year, West Nile virus, as etiological agents," explained Reece. She added that West Nile virus surveillance has heightened mosquito-borne disease awareness this year in South Carolina (see West Nile update on this page).

The majority of the EEE cases were in young, unvaccinated horses, or in older horses which had not been vaccinated for several years. Affected were pleasure horses and several young Thoroughbreds.

According to Reece, the majority of the South Carolina horse population is vaccinated and protected. The state recommends that owners vaccinate twice a year for EEE instead of just annually, because of the greatly extended mosquito season in the South.

"Every year we send out reminders through horse council newsletters, veterinary newsletters, and public information statements," Reece said. "The state keeps residents aware of when cases pop up, usually in the mid- to late summer and early autumn, depending on the weather and the mosquito population."

EEE is cyclic in South Carolina. There were 128 positive cases in 1991, for example, an extremely high number. Typically, South Carolina has a human case every few years.

"In South Carolina, we have warm days in December and the mosquitoes will be back out," said Reece. "Although EEE generally is seasonal, it can occur in warm periods throughout the year."

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners