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Eastern Equine Encephalitis on the Rise

Horses from Kentucky to Maine are being infected and dying from Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Veterinarians across the country encourage all horses not only be vaccinated, but receive booster shots.


Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE, is a mosquito-borne virus that was first found in the 1830s in Massachusetts when 75 horses died from the disease. EEE does not only affect horses. Humans can become sick from the disease as well. After a human is infected by a mosquito bite, he or she will begin to display symptoms within 10 days normally. Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, headaches and seizures to name a few. There is no vaccine or cure for humans and the fatality rate is 35%.

Those areas of the country, namely in New England, that have confirmed human cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, have started spraying for mosquitoes.

While the human fatality rate due to EEE is 35%, the equine fatality rate starts at 70% and can go as high as 90%. Horses begin to display symptoms between 7 to 21 days after infection. One nickname for EEE is the sleeping sickness due to the way horses behave when they have it. The first symptoms of the disease are usually a high fever and bursts of excitement or nerves. As it gets more serious and brain lesions begin, horses will look drowsy, their ears will droop and they will walk around aimlessly. Paralysis ultimately sets in and it can die within a few days of paralysis.

The most recent case to hit the news was of a horse in Maine that died from EEE despite having the vaccine. The sad story highlights the importance of six month booster shots for EEE. The initial inoculation consists of two vaccines 4 to 6 weeks apart. After the adult horse has been vaccinated, it will need booster shots before any mosquito season. In areas where EEE is a problem, it is suggested to administer the booster every six months.

The EEE virus can only be transmitted to humans and horses through the bite of an infected mosquito. Humans, for example, cannot get it from a horse that is battling EEE.

As municipalities take action and administer more public mosquito spray, we at Mosquito Squad encourage homeowners, and horse owners to consider professional mosquito control.

The majority of our residential clients use the mosquito control barrier spray to protect their property. Our trained technicians come out to the home every three weeks to spray the areas where mosquitoes are known to feed and harbor. The spray itself will kill adult mosquitoes on contact and then provide that protection for up to three weeks.

For properties with horse stables, we suggest an installed mosquito misting system instead of the barrier spray. Instead of having a technician come and spray every three weeks, a system is installed on your property. Two to three times a day, when the mosquitoes are known to be their most active, a short burst of mosquito spray will emit from the system, protecting the area. If they are particularly bad, there is a button you can press for another short spray. Mosquito systems are a great way to keep the mosquitoes away on larger properties. Mosquito Squad will not only install the system, but come back to fill your product when needed and winterize your system at the end of the season.

If you have any questions on how to protect yourself and your horses from mosquitoes and the dangerous disease they can transmit, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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