Second Marion County, Florida, Horse Diagnosed with EEE

Second Marion County, Florida, Horse Diagnosed with EEE

A viral disease, EEE affects the central nervous system and is transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes.

Photo: Photos.com

On June 11 the Florida Department of Health in Marion County advised residents that a horse located about four miles east of Citra tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).

This is the second horse to test positive for the EEE virus in Marion County. A horse in the Sparr area tested positive on April 22.

“This is the time of year when mosquito-borne diseases are on the rise,” said Dan Dooley, environmental administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Marion County.

A viral disease, EEE affects the central nervous system and is transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes. 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.

Health Alert: EEE, WEE, VEE

The course of EEE can be swift, with death occurring two to three days after onset of clinical signs despite intensive care; fatality rates reach 75-80% among horses. Horses that survive might have long-lasting impairments and neurologic problems.

Vaccinating horses against EEE coupled with mosquito control are the most important ways to minimize an animal's chances of becoming infected. 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.

Minimizing mosquito populations near your horses by eliminating mosquito breeding and resting areas will reduce the chances these insects bite and infect horses and the people who care for them.

For example, reduce or eliminate sources of stagnant or standing water, remove muck from areas near the horses, stable horses during peak mosquito periods (i.e., dawn and dusk), use equine-approved mosquito repellants, place fans inside barns or stalls to maintain air movement, keep weeds and grass trimmed, and avoid using incandescent bulbs inside stables at night. Instead, place incandescent bulbs away from the stables to attract mosquitoes to areas away from horses.

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