A horse from Ashtabula County was recently confirmed to have eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.
The animal was euthanized in late July after showing neurological symptoms. The animal was not vaccinated against the disease and lived near a low-lying area that is typically prone to harboring mosquitoes. EEE is often transmitted by mosquitoes and can be transmitted to humans, however only a few cases are reported each year and most infected persons report no apparent illness.
“The confirmation of EEE in Ohio serves as a reminder to horse owners on the importance of vaccinating their animals,” said Dr. Tony Forshey, State Veterinarian and chief of the ODA Division of Animal Health. “EEE is one of a handful of illnesses that horses can be protected from through vaccination and I encourage owners to talk to their veterinarian and get horses vaccinated soon.”
EEE attacks the central nervous system of a horse. It appears within five days after a mosquito transmits the virus and clinical signs of illness are abrupt. Signs of EEE in horses include: fever, a sleepy appearance, muscle twitches, weakness and a staggering walk. Often, affected animals are unable to stand within hours of transmission and die within a few days.
Horse owners are encouraged to ensure their animals have been vaccinated, to remove standing water from near their home and increase other mosquito control efforts. Veterinarians in Ohio have been alerted of the confirmed test and are encouraged to notify ODA if they suspect an animal has contracted EEE.