Sunday, February 9, 2014

West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis

As the seasons change, we should be thinking about keeping our equine friends healthy and ready for the upcoming activities we ask them to perform rather it be trail riding, showing or performance events.  According to the “American Mosquito Control Association” we have roughly 150 species of mosquitos that live in the United States.  One of the most common diseases spread by mosquitos is West Nile Virus and EEE.  These two diseases are most active in late spring through early fall with West Nile and EEE being contagious to both people and animals.

Statistics tell us that 40% of horses that contract West Nile die from it.  The virus multiplies in the horse’s blood system and crosses into the brain causing inflammation and interferes with the central nervous system.  Signs of the disease include fever, stumbling, muscle weakness, partial paralysis, convulsions and eventually coma.

Much like West Nile, EEE is a mosquito-borne illness as well as affecting the brain and central nervous system as well as causing blindness, staggering and seizures.  Most infected horses die within several days and horses ages 6 months to 2 years old are the most vulnerable.

There are several things we can do to prevent the spread of these mosquito-borne viruses.  Equine vaccines exist for West Nile and horses should be vaccinated for EEE at least twice a year and according to the veterinary community a vaccination program should start at ages 6 months if the dam was vaccinated and 3 months old if she was not.  Contact your veterinarian to put in place a vaccination schedule.

We can also take additional precautionary measures by applying fly masks, fly sheets and fly leggings to horses when they are at pasture.  Of course, an oil based fly spray and fly spray system for your barn is of great benefit.  Many horse owners keep their horses inside at dawn and dusk which is prime mosquito feeding time.  Turning on fans inside the barn to create a breeze can also be helpful.  Keeping weeds down near and around your barn, replacing outdoor lights with yellow bug lights, and removing any sources of standing water on your property are a few simple precautionary measures to assist in keeping your equine friend healthy and happy.

Happy Trails and let E-Tackroom be your single source for all of your equine fly prevention products.

1 comment:

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