North Carolina Confirms First Equine EEE Case of 2017

The 16-year-old Paint horse from Cabarrus County died after contracting the virus.
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A 16-year-old Paint horse from Cabarrus County, North Carolina, has died after contracting Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE). This is the first confirmed case of EEE in North Carolina this year.

A viral disease, EEE affects the central nervous system and is transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes. Clinical signs of EEE include moderate to high fever, depression, lack of appetite, cranial nerve deficits (facial paralysis, tongue weakness, difficulty swallowing), behavioral changes (aggression, self-mutilation, or drowsiness), gait abnormalities, or severe central nervous system signs, such as head-pressing, circling, blindness, and seizures. The course of EEE can be swift, with death occurring two to three days after onset of clinical signs despite intensive care. Horses that survive might have long-lasting impairments and neurologic problems.

“If your horses exhibit any symptoms of EEE, contact your veterinarian immediately,” said State Veterinarian Doug Meckes, DVM. “And if your horses aren’t vaccinated, talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating them as soon as possible against EEE and West Nile virus,” another mosquito-borne disease.

The vaccinations initially require two shots, 30 days apart, for horses, mules, and donkeys that have no prior vaccination history. Meckes recommends a booster shot every six months in North Carolina because of the state’s prolonged mosquito season

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