Equine owners reminded to get their animals vaccinated against EEE and WNV. State sees first cases of both this year.

by | Aug 17, 2021

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

Summary: The state has recently seen its first cases of Triple E (Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis) and West Nile Virus. Both of these can be fatal in equine and both can be prevented with vaccinations. Confirming these two cases is a reminder for equine owners to vaccinate their animals.

Today’s Topic
  • We recently confirmed the first cases of Triple E (Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis) and West Nile Virus in the state.
  • The West Nile case was in an unvaccinated donkey in Guilford County and the Triple E case was in an unvaccinated horse in Pender County.
  • Both of these mosquito-borne diseases can be fatal in equine, but both are also preventable through vaccinations. These positive cases serve as a great reminder that horse and donkey owners should have their animals vaccinated.
  • Listeners may remember that we talked back in April about getting equine vaccinated.
  • It is not unusual to see these diseases in the state, but I am glad that we are just seeing the first cases now. Overall, we did have nine cases in 2020 with the first one coming in July.
  • It is not “news” to anyone living in North Carolina that mosquitoes are prevalent until first frost, which can be as late as November. Rainfall from tropical storms in late summer can help set up a perfect breeding environment for mosquitoes, but it doesn’t take a lot of water to create an environment for these pests.
  • Even puddles from brief summer storms can create a perfect breeding ground if they stick around for four days or longer. Any measures you can take around the barn or fields to reduce standing water is great for lessening the opportunity for mosquitoes to multiply.
  • Dump containers and removing water from puddles are two simple steps to take. Other tips include keeping horses in stalls at night, using insect screens and fans, and turning off lights after dusk.
  • Watch your animals closely for signs your animals are sick. Symptoms for Triple E include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, a staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death.
  • Symptoms for West Nile Virus are fever, weakness or paralysis of hind limbs, impaired vision, head pressing, seizures and aimless wandering.
  • Contact your vet immediately if you notice your equine exhibiting any of these symptoms.
  • People, horses and birds can become infected by a bite from a mosquito carrying these diseases, but there is no evidence that horses can transmit the viruses to other horses, birds or people through direct contact.
  • People invest a lot in their equine and vaccination is the best way to keep them safe from these mosquito-borne diseases.