Common Complaints: Diseases Horses and Humans Share

The titles of numerous news stories in Florida papers during a few weeks in October shared some common words–Eastern equine encephalomyelitis. The disease has been responsible for several human deaths recently in Florida, and while in Orlando

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The titles of numerous news stories in Florida papers during a few weeks in October shared some common words–Eastern equine encephalomyelitis. The disease has been responsible for several human deaths recently in Florida, and while in Orlando for the American College of Veterinary Surgeons’ annual meeting, the hotel at which I was staying was closing the pool early at night and taking extra precautions against the mosquito population. Eastern equine encephalomyelitis is one of many diseases to which horses and humans share susceptibility.







MICHAEL A. BALL, DVM


Horses and humans are considered “dead end hosts” for the enchepalomyelitis disease as blood levels in them generally are not high enough to infect a feeding mosquito.


An important point is that although humans are susceptible to the virus that causes Eastern equine encephalomyelitis, the disease is not directly contagious to humans from horses. So, these diseases to which horses and people share susceptibility can be divided into two groups. The first group is diseases that can be transmitted to humans directly from an infected horse, and the second is diseases from which both people and horses can suffer, but the disease is not directly contagious from horse to human

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Michael A. Ball, DVM, completed an internship in medicine and surgery and an internship in anesthesia at the University of Georgia in 1994, a residency in internal medicine, and graduate work in pharmacology at Cornell University in 1997, and was on staff at Cornell before starting Early Winter Equine Medicine & Surgery located in Ithaca, New York. He was an FEI veterinarian and worked internationally with the United States Equestrian Team. He died in 2014.

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