Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries Commissioner John McMillan has announced that three horses have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) by the department’s diagnostic laboratory in Auburn.
The positive results came from horses in Houston, Mobile and Geneva Counties.
EEE is a mosquito-transmitted disease that is more severe than West Nile Virus (WNV). The mortality rate in horses from WNV is reported at around 30%, while the rate for EEE is almost 90%.
“Unfortunately, mosquito-borne viruses like EEE and WNV are prevalent in Alabama’s warm and wet climate. Vaccinating is important to protect horses and ourselves,” stated McMillan. “I want to encourage horse owners to take precautionary measures and vaccinate their horses.”
These viruses cause inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. General symptoms include central nervous system signs such as head pressing, convulsions, lack of response to facial stimulation, fever above 103 degrees, ataxia, paralysis, anorexia, depression and stupor. Other symptoms may include irregular gait, teeth grinding, circling, and staggering. An infected horse may not exhibit all symptoms.
McMillan and State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier recommend vaccinating your horses every six months against both EEE and WNV. Horse owners are encouraged to contact their local veterinarian to schedule a vaccination for their horses. The public is also advised to make every effort to reduce human exposure to mosquitoes during this time of year.
For more information about EEE or WNV, please contact Dr. Tony Frazier at 334-240-7253.