2014 Eastern Equine Encephalitis Update
The Ohio Department of Agriculture recently confirmed several cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in horses living in Northeast Ohio. The horses were located in Ashtabula and Trumball counties and tested positive for the EEE virus in late September. Dr. Tony Forshey, the state veterinarian of the ODA and Dave Daniels, who is the director of the ODA; issued a press release in late September to notify horse owners. The press release emphasizes the importance of prevention of this often deadly disease. The virus is spread by mosquitoes and can affect horses, poultry, people and deer. There are several steps that a horse owner can take to prevent this disease. One is to eliminate as many mosquito breeding grounds as possible. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, so any longstanding puddles and pools of water should be eliminated. This includes water the sits for long times in buckets that are left out and things such as old tires that trap water. Another step is to ensure that your horse is properly vaccinated. The vaccine is very effective and requires an initial two shot series. The vaccine is then given once a year to booster your horse's immune system and antibodies.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis affects the horses central nervous system (Brain and spinal cord). As a result, many of the clinical signs are those that you would expect with a brain or spinal cord disorder. These include ataxia, incoordination, wobbling, a generalized depression, lameness, wobbling when walking, generalized weakness, and lack of appetite. Horses can also demonstrate erratic behavior, aggression and seizures. Unfortunately, many horse die after contracting the EEE virus.
At the Orrville Veterinary Clinic, we strive to stay on top of various disease situations as they arise within the state and our region of Ohio. We feel that vaccination is the key to this disease and recommend the vaccination for EEE annually in our area. It is part of our main vaccination line (currently Vetera Gold), which we recommend and provide to each of our clients that participate in our equine wellness program. Please give us a call if you are uncertain whether or not your horse is currently protected. It is often a good time of year to vaccinate your horse for rabies and other preventable diseases.