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|Quick Facts About Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV)|
Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, advises the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The virus is rare and causes inflammation of the brain called encephalitis. Animals, especially horses, are vulnerable to this infection.
"All equine cases are the result of mosquitoes which have fed on infected birds and then feed on unvaccinated horses, " advises Wayne Crans, Entomology Research Professor in Questions Regarding Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Horses. Horses are increasingly susceptible to the EEEV infection. The virus involved attacks the horse's central nervous system. "Onset is abrupt and horse cases are almost always fatal," he says.
Symptoms evident in horses infected with the virus include marked loss of coordination, unsteadiness and erratic behavior. Other signs to be aware of in horses are loss of appetite, drooping eyelids and lower lip, depression, blindness, aimless wandering and circling, and occasional paralysis. The treatment that may be provided by your veterinarian or emergency animal hospital is typically ineffective. Crans reports that after the first indications of illness in an animal "seizures resulting in death usually occur within 48 to 72 hours."
"The greater the number of infected mosquitoes, the greater the risk," says Dr. Alfred DeMaria, Wisconsin's top disease tracker," so preventing mosquito bites becomes even more important." Protecting yourself and your horse can be enhanced by following the suggestions made by the CDC and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
▪ Provide nighttime shelter for horses from hungry mosquitoes by housing them in a barn.
▪ Wash out horse troughs frequently to reduce the breeding of mosquitoes near paddock areas.
▪ Eliminate sources of standing water.
▪ Wear protective clothing.
▪ Use insect repellent on exposed skin or clothing when outdoors especially those that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
▪ Reduce or avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
Crans urges that vaccinations be provided to horses by only licensed veterinarians to ensure that their protection is effective. Infected horses are often found to have been "improperly vaccinated or (were) vaccinated with vaccine that had lost its protective properties."
The vaccinations when properly given are only effective for one year. Annual booster shots are required. Animals receiving their first vaccination will require a two-shot series to guarantee that their protection is adequate.
Humans that are infected with EEEV may not have any apparent illness or symptoms. Cases that are classified as severe "begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma." These severe cases involve an inflammatory condition of the brain called encephalitis advises the CDC.
Boston Globe. Massachusetts health officials raise risk level for EEE.
Center for Disease Control.
Crans, Wayne J. Questions regarding eastern equine encephalitis and horses. Rutgers Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet # FS737.
Merck Veterinary Manual.
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Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.
The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.