BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD)- Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said three horses in Iberville and Lafourche parishes, tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
According to Strain, if a mosquito bites an infected bird, small mammal or reptile, EEE or West Nile Virus (WNV) can be spread to horses, dogs, cats, and humans.
WNV primarily affects birds, and can also infect birds, bats, horses, cats, dogs, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels, domestic rabbits, alligators, and humans.
This mosquito-transmitted diseases can cause inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. EEE causes diseases in horses, mules, donkey and zebras. But other animals such as pigs, llamas, bats, reptiles, amphibians, and rodents can also be infected.
Humans can contract this disease.
“Mosquitoes are out in force right now. The hot and wet conditions exacerbated by storms such as Hurricane Laura, increase the number of mosquitoes that could be carrying diseases,” said Strain. “Like humans, horses are infected by being bitten by mosquitoes. That is why is it so important to vaccinate your horses to help prevent them from getting sick. It is not too late to do.”
Common signs of this diseases includes fever, loss of appetite, weakness, loss of coordination and circulation, and often death.
Some helpful prevention practices are removing standing water where mosquitoes breed and using mosquito repellent that is safe for humans and animals.
As of now, there is no vaccine approved for humans.
Horses, donkeys, and mules can be vaccinated. Horse owners should contact their local veterinarian regarding proper vaccination protocols during this time of increased risk.
Veterinarians are required to call the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry if they suspect EEE or WNV.
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