How Weather Affects Equine Disease
The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends all adult horses be vaccinated at least annually against five diseases, regardless of the animals’ age, intended use, or travel frequency. These “core” vaccinations protect against West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis (EEE/WEE), rabies, and tetanus. All these diseases are transmitted naturally through mosquitoes (the primary vector for WNV and EEE/WEE), wildlife (rabies), or contaminated wounds (tetanus). Natural disasters and severe weather patterns often bring excessive rainfall, flooding, and displacement of both wildlife and resident animal populations, making each of these modes of disease transmission much more likely.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that rising global average temperature is associated with widespread changes in weather patterns and that extreme weather events such as heat waves and large storms are likely to become more frequent and intense with climate change. The EPA also reports that average temperatures have increased across the contiguous 48 states since 1901, with an increased rate of warming over the past 30 years. The prevalence of extreme single-day precipitation events has risen substantially since 1980. The occurrence of abnormally high annual precipitation totals has also increased in recent
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