Equine Encephalitis Dangerous, Preventable

By: Lindsey Brown Email
By: Lindsey Brown Email

New cases of equine encephalitis have surfaced in Mississippi. The mosquito-borne illness is dangerous for horses.

Local veterinarians say one case in Wayne County, three in Lamar County and two in Jackson County have been confirmed so far. The Wayne County horse was treated in Meridian.

The virus has an extremely high mortality rate but is easy to prevent.

Dr. Alison Moore treated the horse from Wayne County, which eventually had to be euthanized. She said she's concerned about the outbreak but wants horse owners to know prevention is simple.

"We typically tell our clients to booster and if they have been vaccinated in the last 3 or 4 months, it wouldn't hurt to vaccinate again," said Moore.

Dr. Moore says the vaccination is highly effective, which is why she's pointing to the lack of vaccinations as the cause for this outbreak.

Horses should be vaccinated for this most severe form of encephalitis every year. And while owners are at it, she suggests they have horses treated for West Nile virus because they both come from mosquitoes.

The birds carry encephalitis and West Nile. The mosquito bites the bird, inoculates the mosquito and then the mosquito goes and feeds on the human or horse, so once it is there, it is a dead end.

But once an animal comes down with Eastern Equine Encephalitis their survival rate is low and the effects are severe.

From inoculation within 3 to 10 days the horse is starting to show signs..same thing with a human..they will begin to show signs..most of the human cases have about 70 something rate but for horses it just isn't easy to treat....

Infected horses will appear to be sleepy...which is why it is commonly called the sleeping sickness. But according to Dr. Moore this can all be prevented for about 20 dollars in vaccines.


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