As the weather warms, now is the time to take steps to protect your equine from WNV and EEE through vaccination.
- In the South, it seems like we deal with mosquitoes almost year-round.
- That might be a slight exaggeration, but their nearly constant presence is also why each year we recommend vaccinating your horses, donkeys and mules against West Nile Virus and Triple E (EEE).
- Triple E is fatal 90 percent of the time in horses and West Nile Virus has a 30-percent fatality rate.
- With proper vaccinations, it’s a risk that equine owners don’t have to take.
- From year to year, it is hard to know what kind of season it will be for Triple EEE and West Nile Virus.
- For example, in 2012, our state saw 20 cases of Triple E in unvaccinated equine and three cases of West Nile Virus compared to three recorded cases of Triple E and two cases of West Nile Virus in 2021.
- I’d like to think greater awareness of these mosquito-borne illnesses, plus more people vaccinating their animals is helping keep the numbers down. But, rainfall is also a factor.
- Horse owners have a big investment in their animals and vaccinations help ensure they stay safe from these preventable diseases.
- Equine owners are encouraged to talk to their vets about an effective vaccination protocol. Multiple shots are needed initially for unvaccinated animals, where vaccinated animals may just need booster shots.
- Reducing sources of standing water is another helpful measure to reduce risk. Keeping horses in stalls at night, using insect screens and fans, and turning off lights after dusk can also help reduce exposure to mosquitoes.
- Signs of Triple EEE to watch for include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death.
- Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to 10 days for symptoms to appear.
- Symptoms of WNV can be similar and include fever, weakness or paralysis of hind limbs, impaired vision, head pressing, seizures and aimless wandering.
- Although people, horses and birds can become infected from a mosquito bite, there is no evidence that horses can transmit the viruses to other horses, birds or people through direct contact.
- And, while we are on preventable animal diseases, I’d also put a plug in for getting livestock vaccinated against rabies since livestock are naturally curious.
- We saw seven cases of rabies in livestock in 2021, but are already at four cases in just the first quarter of this year.
- Talk to your vet about the risks.