With the first confirmed case of Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) in 2019 being diagnosed recently in our state, it is important to know what this disease is, how to protect against it, and what symptoms to be watching out for. Keep readying to become more educated on the threat that is EEE.
Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is an extremely rare but serious and often fatal infection that causes encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. It is spread by the bite of a mosquito infected with EEE virus (EEEV). EEEV can also infect a wide range of animals including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The spread of EEEV to mammals (including humans and horses) occurs through the bite of infected mosquitoes that feed on both birds and mammals
Equine Encephalomyelitis typically appears within five days after an infected mosquito bites and transmits the virus to the horse. The onset of clinical signs of EEE are abrupt, and affected horses usually die within three days. Signs of EEE in horses include fever (know what your horse’s regular temperature is so you know if he is warmer than normal with this helpful post), the horse displaying a sleepy appearance, muscle twitches of the horse’s head, neck, shoulder and flank; and a weak, staggering gait.
In North Carolina, we encourage all horse owners to vaccinate against Tetanus Eastern Western, West Nile, Flu Rhino, and Rabies. The first three listed are core vaccines and are recommended to be given every six months (vaccines for young horses are given in a different range). Rabies is given yearly. The six month vaccines help protect our horses from the mosquito carried diseases. Luckily for everyone that gets their horse vaccinated for TEW (Tetanus Eastern Western), their horse is covered against EEE as this is what the Eastern in TEW stands for. For the most protection, a horse should be vaccinated with these six month vaccines every six months. A horse that was vaccinated for TEW three years ago but didn’t continue getting vaccinated for it will not be protected should an infected mosquito bite him.
No. A horse can’t give EEE to his pasture buddy or any other horses. Horses are considered a dead end host for EEE. EEE infected horses do not generally have enough virus in their blood to infect mosquitoes and then have those mosquitoes infect horses nearby.
Does the thought of EEE shake you to your core? Would you like more information about it? The best way to prevent this disease is to be proactive and vaccinate your horse. Give us a call to set up a vaccine appointment or just get some information on EEE.