Horse euthanized after contracting preventable mosquito-borne disease in Cumberland County

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A horse in Cumberland County was euthanized after it contracted a mosquito-borne disease that is preventable by vaccination.

The 4-year-old mare was infected by the state’s first case of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis, state officials said.

This disease is more common after a hurricane like Florence and Dr. Kim Krivit of the North Star vet hospital expects to see more cases this year.

“The mosquitoes can travel with the hurricane the winds can bring the mosquitoes and then it’s just a breeding ground,” said Krivit.

EEE, which is usually fatal, causes the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed or swell.

Symptoms include:

  • Impaired vision
  • Aimless wandering
  • Head pressing
  • Circling
  • Inability to swallow
  • Irregular staggering gait
  • Paralysis
  • Convulsions
  • Death

The symptoms can take up to 10 days to appear after being bitten by an infected moquito.

“If your horses exhibit any symptoms of EEE, contact your veterinarian immediately,” said State Veterinarian Doug Meckes. “It is imperative that horse owners keep their vaccines current, talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating them as soon as possible against EEE and West Nile virus.”

The vaccinations initially require two shots, 30 days apart.

Dr. Krivit says, “vaccinations cost under 40 dollars and it’s something that horse owners can even do themselves. There’s no evidence that the horses can transmit this virus to other animals or humans.”

Due to North Carolina’s prolonged moquito season, Meckes recommends a booster shot every six months.

North Carolina officials:

People, horses and birds can become infected from a bite by a mosquito carrying the diseases, but there is no evidence that horses can transmit the viruses to other horses, birds or people through direct contact.

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