NC reports first case of fatal mosquito-borne horse disease after Cumberland County mare dies

North Carolina news
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WFMY) — Horse owners in North Carolina should make sure their animals are up to date on vaccinations.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture says the state just had its first case of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) for the year. It’s a mosquito-borne disease that is preventable in horses by vaccination.

The department says a 4-year-old mare in Cumberland County had to be put down after contracting EEE. The horse was not vaccinated.

EEE causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord and is often deadly. Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions, and death. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to 10 days for signs of the disease to appear.

The vaccinations initially require two shots, 30 days apart, for horses, mules and donkeys that have no prior vaccination history. Experts recommend a booster shot every six months because of North Carolina’s prolonged mosquito season.

North Carolina Department of Agriculture says people horses and birds can become infected 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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