The Tennessee State Veterinary Office has confirmed a horse with eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) in Gibson County, Tennessee. The horse was euthanized, and all other horses in the premises were vaccinated, and the boosters should be followed for two weeks. The horse marks the first case of a state coin EEE.
Eastern equine encephalomyelitis is caused by a virus of eastern equine encephalitis, for which wild birds are a natural reservoir. Mosquitoes that feed on EEE-infected birds can transmit the virus to humans, horses and other birds. Horses do not develop high levels of these viruses in their blood to be contagious to other animals or humans. Due to the high mortality rate in horses and humans, EEE is considered one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.
Tips for preventing mosquito-borne diseases include:
- Avoid mosquito bites: Use repellent insects when outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn.
- Look for EPA-labeled products that contain active ingredients such as DEET, picaridine (KBR3023) or lemon eucalyptus oil (p-menthol 3.8-diol).
- Apply more resistant, as instructed on the label, if mosquitoes start biting.
- Mosquito Prevention Homes: Fix or install window and door screens and cover or eliminate empty water containers where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
- Protect Your Horses: Veterinarians recommend EEE commercial vaccines for all horses in US horses should be vaccinated at least annually (recommendations vary in high risk areas). It's not too late to vaccinate your horses this year.
- Use approved insect repellents to protect horses.
- If possible, put horses in stables, stables or barns during mosquito-exposed hours during dusk and dawn.
- Eliminate standing water, drain troughs and empty buckets at least once a week.
- Save water tanks with fish that consume mosquito larvae (contact your local mosquito control for help), or use mosquito nets (solid "donuts" from Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis[BTi], which are non-toxic to horses) available in hardware stores.