Monday, June 17, 2013

State: Vaccinate Horses Now Against West Nile, EEE

Information from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:

State officials are urging horse owners to get their horses vaccinated against Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus.

State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine, State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah and State Gaming Commission Acting Director Robert Williams said no horses have been confirmed yet this year to have the diseases. But in 2012, two cases of EEE were reported in horses in New York state, as well as seven West Nile cases.

“Every year in New York, cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus pop up in horses across the state – diseases which are largely preventable,” said Aubertine. “Good prevention programs are a key component to any animal health plan and I encourage horse owners across New York to take the necessary precautions and vaccinate their horses against these diseases today.”
While it is preferable to vaccinate horses against these diseases in the spring before the mosquitoes that transmit them are active, early summer is not too late, since New York often has mosquito activity into the month of November.

Vaccines for EEE and West Nile can be effective for six to 12 months, and horses should be re-vaccinated at least annually. In an area where the diseases occur year round, many veterinarians recommend vaccinations every six months.

For the vaccine to be effective, it must be handled and administered properly, prior to an anticipated increase in mosquito activity in a local area.  For these reasons, state veterinarian David Smith recommends that the vaccines be administered by a veterinarian. 

Other prevention methods include eliminating standing water breeding sites for mosquitoes, using insect repellents and removing animals from mosquito-infested areas during peak biting times, usually from dusk to dawn.  In addition, water in water troughs should be changed at least twice a week to discourage mosquito breeding.

There is no human vaccine for EEE or West Nile. EEE is rare but serious and can affect both horses and people. Five cases have been diagnoses in humans in New York since 1971 and all, including an Oswego County girl in 2011, have been fatal. 

West Nile is more common than EEE and can cause serious illness and, in some cases, death.
Horsepersons working at New York racetracks, where large concentrations of horses are stabled, should especially heed the recommendation to have horses vaccinated and take necessary precautions to reduce the risk of EEE or West Nile.

The New York State Gaming Commission’s on-track staff is monitoring facility conditions and working with track management to reduce mosquito-infested areas. 

Humans cannot become infected by handling or being exposed to an infected horse. Horses cannot spread either virus to or from other horses, people or pets.  From a veterinary perspective, mosquitoes transmit both diseases from birds to horses.

Typical symptoms of EEE in equines include staggering, circling, depression, loss of appetite and sometimes fever and blindness. Clinical signs of West Nile in horses include lethargy, weakness in the hind quarters, stumbling, lack of awareness, head tilt and head twitching, convulsions, circling, partial paralysis and coma. 

Horses exhibiting neurologic signs like those listed above need to be promptly reported by veterinarians to the State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Division of Animal Industry at (518) 457-3502 in addition to the local health department.  

For more information on EEE and West Nile Virus in horses, please visit:

No comments:

Post a Comment