Balmy summer days mean the return of a particularly annoying creature – the mosquito. Veterinarians are urging horse owners to take precautions now to protect their horses from mosquito-borne illnesses.
Mosquitoes cause three of the major diseases that affect horses — Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE), Western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE), and West Nile Virus (WNV.) Each illness is preventable with vaccines, but they must be given far enough prior to exposure to allow the horse to develop immunity, according to vets. It is important to speak with your veterinarian to ensure your know your vaccination options so your equine is protected.
In 2013, there were 377 cases of WNV in equines reported across 42 states in the U.S. — Texas was at the top of the list with 69 infected horses. That number was down from 627 cases in 2012, according to the USDA.
The number of EEE cases also went down in 2013 to 192 from 209 the year prior. South Carolina reported the most equine cases of EEE.
To make sure your animal doesn’t end up a statistic, reduce the mosquito population around your farm’s property. Water is essential to the mosquito’s life cycle. Here are a few tips to help break the mosquito evolution.
– Scrub water troughs every couple of days to prevent algae and other build-up. Replace water.
– Mosquito Dunks can be added to troughs or other areas where water can’t be eliminated.
– Refill buckets with fresh, clean water daily.
– Remove junk from property and any standing water.
– Keep gutters clean.
– Feed horses away from stagnant water.
– Cover horses with fly sheets / masks (should not be left on for more than 12 hours at a time.)
– Use fans in barn.
– Don’t turn horses out at dawn / dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
– Use insect repellent.
– Barn fly sprays systems help greatly to keep pests away.
– Keep lights off in the barn after dusk.
It is also important to keep yourself protected from the tiny predators. Clothing and bug repellent will help ensure your barn experience is not only enjoyable, but also healthy.