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Eastern equine encephalitis kills four horses in Ohio

Ohio’s state veterinarian, Dr. Tony Forshey, announced Tuesday that four horses in northeast Ohio have died from eastern equine encephalitis. This virus, also known as EEE, is a mosquito-borne disease that attacks the central nervous system and can cause severe illness or death in horses. It can be spread to humans through an infected mosquito bite though no human cases have been confirmed. In horses, the virus usually presents with a high fever followed by erratic behavior such as restlessness or sensitivity to sound and light moving into loss of coordination and seizures. Horses can become totally paralyzed within just four days of onset of symptoms. Though some horses that become effected can survive with early treatment, they usually have permanent brain damage. If the disease progresses, it usually leads to death.

The best way to protect your horses from this virus is to make sure they are up to date on their vaccines and manage the places where mosquitoes breed such as standing water. The Ohio Department of Agriculture is monitoring the situation and are encouraging residents to protect themselves. Knowing the cause, clinical signs, treatment and prevention of these diseases are important to keep this from spreading. If you suspect that your horses may have the signs of EEE, call your veterinarian immediately.