Today’s Topic: NC horse owners should have animals vaccinated against EEE

By on June 13, 2017

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

Note: This week, State Veterinarian Doug Meckes fills in for Commissioner Troxler.

Summer is here, which means it’s mosquito season in North Carolina, which could spell trouble for owners of horses, donkeys and mules.

Summer is typically when cases of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelytus show up in North Carolina. EEE is a mosquito-borne disease that causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord in equine and is usually fatal. However, the disease is preventable by vaccination.

State Veterinarian Doug Meckes encourages equine owners to talk to their veterinarians about an effective vaccination protocol to protect horses from EEE and another mosquito-borne disease, West Nile virus. The combo vaccination initially requires two shots, 30 days apart, for horses, mules and donkeys that have no prior vaccination history. A booster shot every six months also is recommended.

There were nine recorded cases of EEE in North Carolina last year, but because of the mild winter in the state, Dr. Meckes thinks there could be an increase in cases this year. A mild winter can increase the odds for higher mosquito activity in the summer.

Symptoms of EEE include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, an 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. But if your horses or other equine animals exhibit any symptoms of EEE, contact your veterinarian immediately.

People, horses and birds can become infected from a bite by a mosquito carrying the diseases. But there is no evidence that horses can transmit the viruses to other horses, birds or people.

Click on the link below to listen to Dr. Meckes and Rhonda discuss the importance of having equine vaccinated against EEE.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

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