RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) confirms that a horse, stabled in Chesapeake, VA, tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV). The female quarter horse was euthanized on August 7 after showing severe neurological symptoms. No other horses on the farm are showing symptoms of EEE or WNV.
VDACS encourages horse owners to speak with their veterinarians about vaccinating their horses for EEE and WNV. The mortality rate for WNV is 30 percent and up to 90 percent for EEE. Vaccinations are effective for six to 12 months.
Both EEE and WNV are mosquito-borne illnesses. Typical symptoms include staggering, circling, depression, loss of appetite and sometimes fever and blindness. There is no cure for the disease, but it can be prevented through vaccination. Other prevention methods include destroying standing water breeding sites for mosquitoes, use of insect repellents, and removing animals from mosquito-infested areas during peak biting times, usually dusk to dawn. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to ten days for signs of the disease to appear.
For more information on how to control mosquitoes around horses, please visit vdacs.virginia.gov/animals-eastern-equine-encephalitis.shtml. Horse owners may also contact VDACS’ Office of Veterinary Services at 804.786.2483 or consult their local veterinarian.
–Michael Wallace, VDACS