McMillan Advises Horse Owners to Vaccinate for EEE & West Nile Virus

Dan Alabama, Equine, Industry News Release

mcmillanAgriculture & Industries Commissioner John McMillan announces that a horse has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) by the department’s diagnostic laboratory in Auburn. The horse was presented for treatment at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine from the neighboring state of Georgia.

In addition, Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) has reported that the sentinel chickens, used to detect mosquito-borne diseases in the community, have tested positive for EEE. The early warning system has been monitoring vector diseases like EEE and West Nile Virus (WNV) in Mobile for approximately 25 years and has proven effective.

“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.”

EEE is a mosquito-transmitted disease that is much more severe than WNV.  The mortality rate in horses from WNV is reported at around 30%, while the rate for EEE is almost 90%.  Infected mosquitoes are the primary source for EEE.  The virus causes 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.  For more information on public health mosquito surveillance and control programs, contact the Alabama Department of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology at 800-677-0939.

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