SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Two horses in Suffolk were euthanized after they contracted Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
Neither of the horses, a male Paint and an Arabian filly, had up-to-date vaccinations.
These cases were the fifth and sixth Virginia has seen in horses this year, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). The Commonwealth had four earlier cases of EEE this year: two others from Suffolk, one from Chesapeake and one from Prince George County.
EEE is a mosquito-borne illness that causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. It’s also known as the “sleeping sickness.”
Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. Officials say the disease carries a mortality rate of 80 to 90 percent.
Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to 10 days for signs of the disease to appear.
Veterinarians encourage horse owners to get vaccinations for EEE every six months.
“One of the reasons most veterinarians recommend a six-month vaccination schedule in Tidewater, Virginia is because of the prevalence of mosquitoes in the area,” said Dr. Charles Broaddus, State Veterinarian.
Horse owners are encouraged to contact VDACS’ Office of the State Veterinarian or consult their local veterinarian for more information about EEE or to report a case.