As summertime approaches and mosquitoes become more prevalent, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is urging horse owners to vaccinate their animals for both Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and the West Nile Virus (WNV).
Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said, "While many horses have been tested throughout the state, we have not found any animals that are positive for either disease. However, recent tests by the Louisiana Office of Public Health have indicated that a mosquito pool has tested positive in West Baton Rouge Parish so it is important for horse owners to be proactive to prevent the virus from spreading. Horses are infected the same way humans are infected - by being bitten by infected mosquitoes - so everyone needs to take extra precautionary measures at this time."
If a mosquito bites an infected bird, EEE or WNV can be spread to horses, dogs, cats and humans. These mosquito-transmitted diseases can cause inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord.
Prevention includes avoiding mosquitoes, removing standing water and using mosquito repellants that are safe for horses and humans. Horses can also be vaccinated. So far, there is no vaccination approved for people. Horse owners should contact their local veterinarian regarding proper vaccination protocols during this time of increased risk.