SPARKS ADVISES HORSE OWNERS TO VACCINATE FOR EEE
Commissioner Ron Sparks announced that seven positive cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in horses have been found in south Alabama. Five horses were located in Baldwin County, one in Escambia County, and one in Mobile County.
"Hurricane Dennis has made us extremely vulnerable to the spread of mosquito-borne viruses and we need to protect our livestock and ourselves," stated Sparks. "I want to encourage horse owners to vaccinate their horses for both EEE and West Nile Virus as soon as possible," Sparks said.
EEE is a mosquito-transmitted disease that is much more severe than West Nile Virus (WNV). The mortality rate in horses from WNV is reported at around 30 percent, while the rate for EEE is almost 90 percent. Infected mosquitoes are the primary source for EEE. The virus causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. General symptoms include central nervous system signs such as: head pressing, convulsions, lack of response to facial stimulation, fever above 103 degrees, ataxia, paralysis, anorexia, depression, and stupor. Other symptoms may include irregular gait, teeth grinding, in-coordination, circling, and staggering. All symptoms may not be exhibited by an infected horse.
Commissioner Sparks and State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier recommend vaccinating your horses every six months against both EEE and WNV. Horse owners are encouraged to contact their local veterinarian to schedule a vaccination for their horses. The public is also advised to make every effort to reduce human exposure to mosquitoes in the aftermath of Hurricane Dennis. The first human death in 2005 from EEE has been confirmed recently in a man in Escambia County and another patient is being treated in Baldwin County.
For more information about EEE or WNV, please contact Dr. Tony Frazier at 334-240-7253.