The Dangers of Eastern Equine Encelphalitis on the North Shore Are Real

The North Shore is home to many horse lovers. Whether they are used strictly for pleasure, or as your livelihood, our equine friends are a huge part of the culture in our region. Many of the area’s premiere equestrian centers are located in close proximity to Bradley Palmer State Park which boasts over 80 miles of riding trails for horse lovers to enjoy. Essex, Middleton, Boxford and the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, MA are home to many stables, teaching and sporting facilities that offer instruction in a variety of disciplines.

Mosquito Squad of the North Shore is striving to keep horses on the North Shore safe from vector-borne illness and disease. Eastern Equine Encephalitis is of particular concern here in our region and can affect all classes of equine, from minis all the way to Clydesdales. The dangers mosquitoes pose to humans, as well as our equine friends, are real. Horses as well as people are able to contract the illness which makes it double dangerous for horse enthusiasts whose favorite place is in the barn.

What is EEE?

EEE is a viral disease which is transmitted to mosquitoes through feeding off birds infected with the virus. The disease is then transmitted to other mammals through the bite of those mosquitoes infected with the virus. Horses and people are considered a “dead end host”, which means once infected horses cannot infect other horses or people. The same goes for people who become infected with EEE. We cannot transmit the disease once infected. The disease is quite serious, and in some cases fatal. Last year, there were seven diagnosed human cases of EEE, and three of these cases claimed the lives of three Massachusetts residents. This disease also claimed the lives of numerous horses last season and is getting too close for comfort for many North Shore residents, and horse owners.

Symptoms of EEE in equine, including horses, ponies, donkeys and mules include a loss of coordination, a staggering gait, confusion, and refusal to eat or take water. These symptoms become evident 4 to 10 days after the onset of infection. Later stages of the disease can include seizures and in 48-72 hours usually death.  Symptoms in humans include mild flu-like symptoms to sore throat and severe headache. In some people there are no symptoms at all until the disease progresses to affect the central nervous system which can lead to seizures, coma and even death.

Preventing EEE

The best way to avoid you or your horse getting the disease is to practice safe mosquito practices around the house and the barn. This includes keeping debris and brush cut and cleaned up. Avoid standing water, and refill your horse’s water trough on a regular basis. Using a mosquito misting system or having your property and barn misted by a licensed mosquito control professional will reduce your chances of infection and keep you and your horses healthy and happy.

Mosquito Squad of the North Shore offers a barrier treatment that is highly effective in preventing mosquitoes all season long as part of our barrier treatment program. The areas are misted on a recurring basis throughout the season at scheduled times. The product we use is safe for use around people, horses and domestic animals. Our automatic misting systems are a must for barns because they emit a timed automatic mist of mosquito repellant to eliminate and control mosquitoes on a timed basis.  The highly effective system is easily adjustable for those times you want additional or fewer sprays to suit your needs.  Along with your grain and hay supply, and tack, our mosquito misting systems have become a must have in the barn for the ultimate mosquito protection.

Contact Mosquito Squad of the North Shore to learn about our automatic mosquito misting systems and other mosquito control techniques that will keep you, your family and your horse protected from mosquitoes this season.