Geoff Palmer, 518-457-3136|
July 27, 2012
New York Confirms First Equine Case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in 2012
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) confirms the first 2012 case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as EEE, in a horse living in St. Lawrence County, NY. The 8 year old gelding had no vaccination history and no history of travel outside the county. The horse started to show signs of the disease on July 23 and died later on that day. Samples were sent to the NYS Dept of Health’s Wadsworth Center to confirm the diagnosis of EEE. The horse tested negative for Rabies and West Nile Virus. Other horses on the same premises are not showing any signs of EEE.
Mosquitoes carry the disease from birds to horses. Typical symptoms of encephalitis in equines include staggering, circling, depression, loss of appetite and sometimes fever and blindness. There is no cure for this disease, which has high mortality rates in horses. Humans cannot become infected by handling an infected horse, nor can a horse acquire the virus from another infected horse; however, the presence of an infected horse in the area indicates that mosquitoes carrying EEE are present and pose a threat to both humans and horses.
Horses exhibiting neurologic signs, like those listed above, need to be promptly reported by veterinarians to NYSDAM and the local health department. Horses suffering from neurologic problems must always be handled with extreme caution, since they may be unpredictable and there is the possibility that Rabies may be the cause.
NYSDAM urges all horse owners to ask their veterinarian about Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) vaccination recommendations for their horses. Diseases such as Rabies and West Nile Virus cause neurologic symptoms similar to EEE. Accordingly, horses should also be protected from these diseases through use of yearly vaccination.
Vaccines are available to drastically reduce the incidence of EEE in horses. The vaccines are effective for six to twelve months, so horses should be re-vaccinated at least annually. In an area where the disease occurs year round, many veterinarians recommend vaccination every six months. For the vaccine to be effective it must be handled and administered properly and be given at least two weeks before the horse is exposed to the virus. Additionally, to stimulate full immunity, horses must be vaccinated twice, about 30 days apart, the first year that the horse is vaccinated. It is not too late to vaccinate for EEE, since parts of New York had mosquito activity into late November of 2011.
Other prevention methods include destroying standing water breeding sites for mosquitoes, using insect repellents and removing animals from mosquito-infested areas during peak biting times, usually dusk to dawn.
Humans should reduce contact with mosquitoes. Wearing protective clothing and insect repellents, avoiding the outdoors during dawn and dusk are all ways to avoid mosquito bites. For more information about humans and EEE, visit: http://www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/eastern_equine_encephalitis/fact_sheet.htm
For more information on EEE, West Nile Virus and Rabies Virus in Horses, visit: http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/AI/equine/equine.html#3
2012 Press Releases