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Mosquito-Borne Viruses Could Be a Threat to Your Horse
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Mosquito-Borne Viruses Could Be a Threat to Your Horse

If proper care is not taken, a five-milligram mosquito could kill a 1,000-pound horse in just a few days. "In South Carolina, there were instances of West Nile Virus (WNV) discovered in 10 horses. There were also 9 cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) discovered," said Sean Eastman, DVM, chief executive of field administrations for animal health programs branch of Clemson University Livestock-Poultry Health, in Columbia, South Carolina.

"The two viruses causes a high death rate in horses. Between 30 and 40 percent of unvaccinated horses recorded to have West Nile and 90 percent of horses with EEE did not survive," Eastman said. "With the growth of mosquitoes and the presence of these viruses in close-by states, appropriate immunization for horses is fundamental."

West Nile and EEE are transmitted to horses by mosquitoes, especially the dark Culiseta melanura mosquitoes, which are a scourge from Maine to Mexico. Reducing mosquito population around the horse paddock is fundamental but only immunization can keep the malady from infecting your horse.

Domesticated Animal Health is an administrative arm of Clemson's Public Service and Agriculture and gives yearly inoculations for Eastern and Western equine encephalitis, WNV, and rabies. It is recommended that you report to the state's veterinarian's office no more than 48 hours after noticing virus infection or sickness in your horse. "The viruses can infect all your horses if you don't inoculate them," said Boyd Parr, DVM, state veterinarian and livestock-poultry health executive. "The best safety is for horse owners to get current equine immunizations for their horses."

"When I was a commercial veterinarian, I would ask my clients, will you pay $40 now or a few thousand to treat your horse later and that is even if the treatment works," said Eastman, who presently coordinates livestock-poultry health wellbeing monitoring team who routinely visit horse shelters over the state. "It genuinely may come down to choosing between highly endangering your horse or spending $40 to safeguard your horse."

Any horse in South Carolina that shows neurologic signs such as faltering, noise, head-squeezing, despondency, or trepidation, must be reported to the state veterinarian within 48 hours at (803) 788-2260 as indicated by state law.

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