Protect Against EEE in Florida

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Animal Industry sent an e-mail to Florida practitioners last week reminding them to make sure horse owners safeguard against Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and reminded them to submit a special form when sending samples to Florida diagnostic laboratories. There already have been five confirmed cases of EEE in 2006.

"Last year, Florida had 150 confirmed cases of EEE and 12 cases of WNV (West Nile virus)," wrote Mike Short, DVM, equine program manager for the Division of Animal Industry, in the letter. "The sentential chicken data is higher this year than for the same time in 2005." Confirmed EEE cases have been detected in Columbia, Duvall, Levy (2), and Marion Counties. Three of the horses were reported dead, one was reported euthanatized, and one is still alive. The vaccination status of the horses was unknown in three of the cases, one of the horses was vaccinated against WNV and rabies, but not EEE, and the living horse was current on its vaccinations.

"The arboviruses are reportable diseases, so please remember to submit an arboviral case reporting form when submitting samples to the Kissimmee Diagnostic Lab or when sending suspect samples to other laboratories, fax the case form directly to me," Short continued. "The information on the case forms is important as the department uses the data to inform the equine industry and veterinarians of the ongoing status of the disease.

In addition, the Florida and County Departments of Health use the information as a surveillance tool for assessing human risk of exposure to the viruses."

Veterinarians were asked to contact the Division of Animal Industry with any questions regarding EEE and submitting case forms. For more information visit www.doacs.state.fl.us.

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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