80 Eastern Encephalitis Cases in Florida

Florida officials had tallied 80 confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in 2005 as of July 5 (75 of them since May 1), and the state could be approaching a record year for EEE infections. Florida vets received a letter in early June from Michael A. Short, DVM, veterinarian manager of equine programs in Florida's Division of Animal Industry, urging them to submit samples from suspected cases.

The situation is reminiscent of the high-level years 1982 and 2003, in which reports topped 200 EEE cases. At least 56 of the 2005 cases have died or been euthanatized as a result of the infection. Central Florida has experienced the most cases so far, and most of the affected animals have not been current on their EEE vaccinations.

"Most of the animals that contract EEE die," said Short. "Please be aware that any form of equine encephalitis is a reportable disease. All suspected encephalitis cases should be reported by submitting the completed Arboviral Encephalitis Case Information Form and serum to the Kissimmee Diagnostic Lab" (the form was sent with the e-mail to vets, but it also can be obtained from the Division of Animal Industry at 850/410-0952 or 850/410-0901 or the Kissimmee Diagnostic Lab at 321/697-1400).

He said not all cases are reported and the actual number of cases is probably much higher than the current count.

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.

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