2 Suffolk horses test positive for EEE

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 19, 2004

Staff Report

Two horses from Suffolk, confirmed as positive cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), have been euthanized, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced.

One horse was an eight-year-old quarterhorse mare, the other a one year-old miniature horse mare. Both were unvaccinated. In July, VDACS reported the first case of EEE for 2004, a thoroughbred from the Chesapeake area.

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VDACS advises horse owners to vaccinate their animals every six to twelve months against EEE. This is particularly important in the Southeastern region of Virginia, where they recommend the six-month vaccination interval. Vaccination includes an initial shot, with a booster six weeks later, then boosters every six to twelve months. Vaccinations must be administered correctly and in a timely fashion to be effective.

Generally, EEE is transmitted by mosquitoes. Typical symptoms include staggering, circling, depression, loss of appetite and sometimes fever and blindness. There is no cure for the disease, but generally it can be prevented through vaccination. Other prevention methods include destroying standing water breeding sites for mosquitoes, use of insect repellents such as DEET, and removing animals from mosquito-infested areas during peak biting times, usually dusk to dawn.

Veterinarians and health officials anticipate more cases of EEE this year than in the past because of the rainy summer. The Virginia Department of Health reports that 12 sentinel chickens and a total of 36 mosquito pools in Tidewater have tested positive for the disease.

For more information, contact the VDACS Division of Animal and Food Industry Services/State Veterinarian at 804/692-0601 or consult your local veterinarian.