It is not just man’s best friend and your furry feline who are at risk for mosquito-borne illness’s. Many of our beloved pets are at risk to contract deadly diseases from the mosquito, this includes our horses. If you are a horse owner or horse lover who enjoys the company of a gallant steed like I am, then you need to be aware of the dangers that mosquitoes can bring to you and your horse.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is spread by simple mosquito bites and can be fatal to our beloved horses. Eastern Equine Encephalitis is also referred to as “sleeping sickness” among veterinarians and horse folk. It was first recognized in 1831 when 75 horses died in Massachusetts from the illness. This virus was first isolated from the brain of a horse infected with EEE ( Eastern Equine Encephalitis ) ,in 1933 and in 1938 the first confirmed human cases of the disease were identified when 30 children perished as the result of the illness in the northeastern United States.
Symptoms of EEE are usually noticeable about 5 days after a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito. Initially the horse will seem depressed and become quiet. Other signs include impaired vision, aimless circling and wandering even when stalled, an irregular staggering gait, head pressing and rubbing, an inability to swallow, paralysis, convulsions and eventually death.
Since humans can be infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis as well, Symptoms in humans infected with the illness may include high fever, chills, sudden onset of a headache and vomiting, disorientation, seizures and coma.
There is no specific treatment for EEE in humans or in equine, care is based on symptoms. So the best treatment is prevention of mosquito bites. Bites can be prevented by reducing the number of mosquitoes in the area. There are a couple of solutions for your horse stables and pastures. In your pasture, Mosquito Squad provides a mosquito barrier spray. This is a safe and effective spray that eliminates 90% or more of the mosquitoes and ticks from the area. It is sprayed every 3 weeks throughout the heavy mosquito season. Mosquito Squad also offers a mosquito misting system.
The illness is rare in humans and common sense safeguards reduce your chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito. Have a licensed professional apply a mosquito barrier spray to your outdoor living areas is a good idea to avoid being bitten.
Even though the illness is rarely seen in humans, the numbers of our equine friends being infected is on the rise. Horses, donkeys, mules and ponies are all at risk of this deadly illness. The threat is real and horse owners need to educate themselves on preventing the illness. Fortunately, there is an EEE vaccine for equine now available. Since there is no treatment for a horse already infected with the illness, vaccinations are essential for the prevention of the disease. The vaccination is given in two doses 30 days apart, and a booster given every six months. These are preferably administered in the early spring through the early fall. Talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate vaccination schedule for your horse.
Prevention of mosquitoes is also key in keeping your equine healthy. Safe stabling practices and eliminating sources of standing water in the barn, paddocks and pasture is essential. This includes moist hay or grain, open containers and water troughs.