Commissioner Steve Troxler: NC Sees First EEE Case for 2019

We recently saw the first case of EEE in the state in an unvaccinated four-year old mare in Cumberland County. The horse had to be euthanized – a somber reminder to vaccinate your equine.

  • We recently saw the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) in an unvaccinated four-year old mare in Cumberland County. The animal was euthanized, which is a somber reminder to equine owners to vaccinate their animals.
  • EEE is a mosquito-borne disease that is preventable by vaccines, which is good news.
  • I would encourage equine owners to contact their vet to begin the vaccination process if their animals have not been vaccinated.
  • The process requires two shots, 30 days apart, for horses, mules and donkeys with no vaccination history. If animals have been vaccinated, a booster shot every 6 months will keep the vaccines current. Year-round vaccines are recommended because of the state’s prolonged mosquito season.
  • It doesn’t take much water to develop a mosquito problem. They can breed in any puddle that lasts for more than four days.
  • Some tips for reducing the risk of exposure to your animals is to:
    • Remove any source of standing water;
    • Keep horses in stall at night
    • Use insect screens and fans, and turn off lights after dusk
    • Insect repellants can be effective if used properly.
  • EEE causes inflammation of swelling of the brain and spinal cord and is usually fatal. Once a horse is bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to 10 days for signs of the disease to appear.
  • Symptoms of EEE include:
    • Impaired vision
    • Aimless wandering
    • Head pressing
    • Circling
    • Inability to swallow
    • Irregular staggering gait
    • Paralysis
    • Convulsions
    • Death
  • People, horses and birds can become infected from a bite by a mosquito carrying the disease, but there is no evidence that horses can transmit the viruses to other horses, birds and people through direct contact.