AUGUSTA — Maine State Veterinary officials would like to remind horse owners that now is the time vaccinate horses to ensure protection from Rabies and mosquito-borne diseases such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV). Vaccinating horses annually against rabies, EEE and WNV is the best way to protect them from these dangerous diseases, which can cause neurologic symptoms and commonly lead to death in unvaccinated animals.
Officials caution against complacency, even though there were no cases of rabies, EEE or WNV in Maine horses last year. Annual vaccination is safe, effective and essential to maintain protection against these potentially deadly infections.
Horse owners can also minimize the chances of their horses interacting with the wildlife species that commonly transmit the rabies virus, such as raccoons and skunks, by cleaning up potential food sources for these animals such as trash, grain and food left out for barn cats.
Horse owners should reduce mosquito breeding sites by eliminating sources of standing water such as unused buckets and tires. Owners should also consider keeping horses inside stalls during times of high mosquito activity – between dusk and dawn – which will help reduce their exposure to mosquito bites.
Owners whose horses are showing signs of these diseases, which can include stumbling, circling, head pressing, depression or apprehension, weakness of legs, partial paralysis, inability to stand, muscle twitching or death, are urged to contact their veterinarian immediately. Suspicion of rabies, EEE or WNV infection in horses should be reported to the Maine State Veterinarian’s office immediately at 207-287-7615.
—Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
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