Nine Louisiana Horses
With Eastern Equine Encephalitis

From Patricia Doyle, PhD

NEW ORLEANS -- Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has struck 9 horses in Louisiana, 8 of them in the last 2 weeks. Tests are still out on several more horses, assistant state veterinarian Martha Littlefield said on Thursday.
"Triple-E's a much more serious disease than West Nile," Littlefield said. "When horses get it, they don't recover."Nine of 10 horses die from EEE; survivors almost always have neurological problems. It is much rarer in people -- fewer than 160 cases have been diagnosed since 1964 -- but kills 3 out of 10 human patients, with neurological problems likely in the rest.
No people have been diagnosed with it this year in Louisiana. Two each in Georgia and Florida have been diagnosed, and Alabama officials are Waiting on results of tests on 2 more people. Just as worrying as the threat of EEE, Littlefield said, is the fact that 1 shot vaccinates horses against not only that virus but 2 or 3 other viruses which cause encephalitis and against tetanus. [Generally EEE is packaged in a single injection also containing western and Venezuelan equine encephalitis and tetanus toxoid. This vaccine needs to be given twice initially and annually thereafter. - Mod.TG] If horses haven't been vaccinated for EEE, they also are susceptible to the other diseases. One New Orleans horse specialist gives a vaccine for flu, tetanus and 3 forms of encephalitis for USD 20 a shot.
"Unfortunately, the vaccine against Eastern equine encephalitis has to be administered a couple of months before the horse is exposed," to give its immune system time to respond, said Dawn Wesson, a Tulane University entomologist.
Most of the infected horses have been in West Louisiana: 2 in DeSoto Parish, 1 in Sabine Parish, and 2 in Allen Parish -- all 3 near Vernon Parish -- and 1 in Webster Parish. There also was 1 each in Ouachita, Orleans, and Assumption parishes. Eight either died or had to be euthanized. The survivor was a 2 month old foal in New Orleans, Littlefield said. "It's probably going to have some neurological damage," she said.
The mosquito which transmits EEE among birds is a swamp-dweller, hard to get to for mosquito control. But those which spread it from birds to people and horses are the same ones likely to spread West Nile virus, said Dawn Wesson, a Tulane University entomologist. This means people can take the same precautions around their horses that they take around their houses, making sure water doesn't stand around in pots, buckets, bottle lids or other containers. "Horse troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitat and should be flushed at least once each week to reduce mosquitoes near the paddock area," an LSU AgCenter brochure advises. "The use of residual insecticides for treating mosquito resting areas around homes and livestock premises is helpful, too."
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at: Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa Go with God and in Good Health




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