MADISON, Wis. (WLUC) A two month old unvaccinated filly from Forest County is the first reported Wisconsin horse to have become infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) this year. The filly was euthanized on August 23.
EEE is a virus that can be transmitted and carried through mosquitoes from birds to horses and humans. Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain. The symptoms include appetite loss, depression, drooping of the eyelids and lower lip, weakness, fever, aimless wandering, lack of coordination, paralysis, blindness and circling. EEE is fatal to horses in 90 percent of cases. Mosquitoes are the only way of transmission.
The last time Wisconsin saw a major outbreak of EEE was in 2011, when they had over 30 cases, mostly in northern central Wisconsin. Since then sporadic cases have occurred.
Horses that have not been vaccinated this year for EEE or other mosquito born diseases are at greater risk. Animals that have never been vaccinated need two doses to four weeks apart and the vaccination will take two weeks to build up protection. The vaccination will not protect horses who have already been infected by the virus.
You can take the following steps to limit the horses exposure to mosquitoes:
Keep rain gutters clean and draining properly, remove items around property that could collect stagnant water like, old tires, plastic containers and tin cans.
Turning wading pools and wheelbarrow upside down when not in use, consider keeping the horses in the barn from dusk to dawn which is when mosquitoes are most active.
Discuss using equine mosquito repellents with your veterinarian.
The mosquitoes usually remain a threat at the beginning in mid to late summer, and stay a threat until the first killing frost.