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First case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus reported this year

Photo provided by MGN Online.
Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 9:00am

A two-year-old horse located in Maurepas in Livingston Parish reportedly tested positive for both Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and the West Nile Virus (WNV) and was humanely euthanized by a local veterinarian.

Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is strongly advising horse owners to vaccinate their animals for EEE and WNV. Reports indicate that the horse was not vaccinated.

“Heavy rainfall, which we’ve had in recent weeks, creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes which can carry both EEE and WNV. Just like humans, horses are infected the same way – by being bitten by infected mosquitoes,” said Strain. “I urge horse owners to get their horses vaccinated. Contact your local veterinarian regarding proper vaccination protocols.”

The mosquito-transmitted diseases can cause inflammation and swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Infected horses may show lethargy, weakness and paralysis. A high percentage of horses infected with the disease will die.

Prevention includes avoiding mosquitoes, using mosquito repellants that are safe for horses and humans, and for horses, vaccination. So far, there is no vaccination approved for people.

By the same time last year, there were seven cases of WNV and 10 cases of EEE in horses.

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