Kentucky Confirms First EEE Case Since 1995

According to a statement from the Kentucky State Veterinarian's Office, the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, today confirmed a diagnosis of Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) in a Paint filly in Gallatin County.

The 6-month-old filly first showed clinical signs Oct. 9. She was found down and unable to rise without assistance. "Once up filly would fall when trying to step, and (it) demonstrated an inability to swallow," the report noted. "Condition deteriorated to the point of euthanasia."

The carcass was submitted to the University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center for necropsy. Testing conducted there and the Department of Public Health Laboratory in Frankfort, Ky., ruled out West Nile virus, equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, and rabies as potential causes of the encephalitic condition.

Tests performed at the federal lab isolated EEE virus in the filly's brain tissue, and EEE viral RNA in both the isolate and tissue.

The filly was not vaccinated for EEE.

According to the report, EEE is seldom diagnosed in Kentucky. The last confirmed case of a horse naturally infected with EEE in the state was reported in 1995 in an unvaccinated adult mare in Western Kentucky.

Equine are considered a "dead-end host" for the virus, and do not pose a risk of transmitting it to other susceptible animals.

"While we are continuing our investigation, at this point in time how the filly contracted the virus is without explanation," the report noted.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. She owns a portly gray gelding named Duncan and dabbles in several equestrian disciplines, with an emphasis on dressage.

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