The Vermont Department of Health says a horse was euthanized after it contracted Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD said residents in the Highgate area are at a high risk for EEE. “I strongly recommend that people living in the area take every precaution to avoid bites while mosquitoes are still active – until the first killing frost.”
A hard frost is defined as below 28 degrees for several hours.
State officials were notified after the horse’s death on August 30.
Sometimes called “sleeping sickness,” EEE is a serious disease that is transmitted to humans and some animals by infected mosquitoes. The insects acquire the virus from birds and rodents.
To protect yourself and your horses, officials say:
– Stay inside or limit the amount of time spent outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active and biting.
– Use insect repellents labeled as being effective against mosquitoes.
– Cover up with long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes, and hat.
– Dump standing water from around your house twice a week.
Symptoms vary widely, according to Bayer Healthcare, but all result from inflammation of the brain. Early signs include fever, depression and appetite loss. A horse might stagger when it walks, and paralysis develops later. Prevention is essential since the death rate is over 75% for equines infected with EEE.
Veterinarians recommend horses should receive an EEE and WEE vaccine at least annually.