Vaccinations a must for horses

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2003

A healthy horse is a happy horse, so it’s up to their owners to ensure that vaccinations against Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) have been administered. This is particularly vital now that the first positive case in Virginia has just been confirmed Wednesday in Chesapeake by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Although the horse had been vaccinated once in spring, the earlier shot record is unknown. This highlights the fact that regular booster vaccinations are a must.

Both veterinarians and health officials are expecting more cases of EEE, which has no cure.

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Why more EEE? You could blame it on the unusually rainy weather in this region alone. According to the National Climatic Data Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have both confirmed that the Eastern and Southern states endured record levels of rain and cooler than normal temperatures in June. All that standing water has been the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, especially the kind that can transmit EEE to horses.

The Virginia Department of Health has confirmed that Suffolk is a place where nine mosquito pools have tested positive for EEE.

How can you tell if your horse might be affected? Loss of appetite, circling and staggering, depression, and sometimes fever and blindness are obvious symptoms.

In addition to vaccinations, take precautions by using insect repellents like DEET, destroying standing water spots, and keep the animals away from mosquito-infested areas from dusk to dawn.

Although humans are not suspectible to EEE, Unfortunately there’s no vaccination for us when it comes to regular mosquito bites. Those minions of Dracula will seek out any vulnerable spot on your body and get you.

But to help keep them away, we recommend wearing mosquito repellent and dressing properly, especially when working or playing outdoors; destroy standing-water sites (cover them with dirt, for example); and burning citronella candles that can keep the bloodsuckers at bay.