Commissioner Troxler: Equine Owners Beware of EEE and WNV

With warm weather also come mosquito season, which brings the risk of mosquito-borne diseases for equine. Horse and donkey owners are encouraged to have their animals vaccinated against Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (Triple E) and West Nile Virus. Both diseases can be fatal for equine – 90 percent fatality rate for Triple E and 30 percent rate for WNV. However, both diseases are preventable through vaccinations. NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler explains.

  • I have to admit I have been looking forward to the warmer weather and finally putting winter behind us.
  • I enjoy working around my farm and being outside in general and the warm weather makes that better.
  • But, the warm weather is also a reminder that mosquito season is fast approaching. That also brings the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, particularly for equine.
  • For a number of years now, we have been reminding equine owners to vaccinate their animals against Triple E (EEE) and West Nile Virus.
  • Both of these disease can be fatal to horses and donkeys, but are totally preventable with proper vaccinations. Triple E is 90 percent fatal in equine, while West Nile Virus is 30 percent fatal.
  • For that reason, our state veterinarian recommends equine owners establish a regular vaccination schedule to protect their animals.
  • Mosquitoes can breed in any puddle that lasts for more than four days, so removing any source of standing water can reduce the chance of exposing animals to Triple E and West Nile Virus.
  • Other tips for reducing exposure to mosquitoes include keeping horses in stalls at night, using insect screens and fans, and turning off lights after dusk.
  • Symptoms of Triple E include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death.
  • For West Nile Virus, equine might have a fever, weakness or paralysis of hind limbs, impaired vision, head pressing, seizures and aimless wandering.
  • If owners notice any of these symptoms, they should contact their vet immediately.