Spring is the favorite season for most in the US, but the horse owners in Vermont certainly don’t fall in this category of people. Every year, spring brings with it the two dreaded diseases for horses – EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) and WNV (West Nile Virus). The veterinarians in the state of Vermont have already sounded the alert against EEE and they have urged horse owners to get the vaccination done against these diseases.
Vermont State Veterinarian Dr. Kristin Haas says that this is the time when the horse owners should consult their veterinarians and ensure that their horses are vaccinated. The vaccination is the only way EEE and WNV can be kept at bay. As per Dr. Haas, it doesn’t matter where the horses are in Vermont. Even if they are kept in isolation, they are still susceptible to infections caused by these two dreaded viruses. This is because these viruses are present all over the state.
But what are EEE and WNV?
EEE is a viral infection that is spread by mosquito bite. The mortality rate of EEE is almost 100% and the horses suffer from severe neurological diseases. Horses that suffer from EEE show some clear symptoms – they are unable to stand, they suffer from in-coordination and ataxia, their limbs become weak or paralyzed and violent seizures usually lead to deaths. The symptoms can start 3 to 10 days after the mosquito bite and the outcome is usually fatal. Apart from horses the other animals that are susceptible to EEE are mammals like alpacas and llamas and birds like emus. EEE infected emus are known to develop hemorrhagic diarrhea.
WNV is less severe than EEE and the mortality rate is much lower. The symptoms that WNV infected horses show are more or less similar to EEE.
The only saving grace is that the disease doesn’t spread through the infected animals. However, any EEE or WNV case in the state needs to be reported to the Office of the State Veterinarian.
Vaccination is important, but so are other methods to protect horses from EEE and WNV. The simplest job is to change the water in the troughs and other water containers and clean them to reduce the areas of breeding of mosquitoes. There are various approved insect repellents available in the market and these should be used in the stables where the horses are kept. Face nets and face sheets also keep the horses safe from the mosquitoes and thus, the viruses.
People sometimes spend fortunes on buying and breeding horses. Horse racing is still one of the most lucrative sports events. Therefore, there can be nothing more devastating for a horse owner to find out that a prized equine has been infected by EEE or WNV. However, if someone acts on time, these diseases can be stopped from causing havoc.
The vaccination alert against EEE is already out and it is our appeal to all the horse owners of Vermont to meet their local veterinarians and take the necessary steps. There is no point taking any chance against EEE and WNV.
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