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Strain Reminds Horse Owners to Protect for Mosquito Borne Diseases

September 18, 2014

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M, is reminding horse owners to be vigilant in protecting their horses and vaccinate their animals for both Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and the West Nile Virus (WNV).

Strain said, “We are seeing more and more reported cases of both EEE and WNV later than normal this season mainly because we have had drier than normal weather conditions.”

The first case of EEE was reported July 22, 2014. The most recent was reported  Sept. 5, 2014. So far, there are seven reported cases of EEE and there is one reported case of WNV.  Cases of EEE have been reported in Acadia, Beauregard, Evangeline and Vermilion Parishes. One case of WNV was reported in Franklin Parish. Horses are infected the same way humans are infected – by being bitten by infected mosquitoes.

If a mosquito bites an infected bird, EEE or WNV can be spread to horses, dogs, cats and humans. These mosquito-transmitted diseases can cause inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. The diseases cannot be spread from horses or other animals to humans.

Prevention includes avoiding mosquitoes, removing standing water and using mosquito repellants that are safe for horses and humans. Horses can also be vaccinated. So far, there is no vaccination approved for people. Horse owners should contact their local veterinarian regarding proper vaccination protocols during this time of increased risk.

State Public Health Veterinarian with the Department of Health and Hospitals Dr. Gary Balsamo said, “You should protect yourself from mosquitoes no matter where you live in Louisiana. Eastern Equine Encephalitis is not the most common threat, but it does result in the most severe symptoms in humans.”