How to Protect Horses From EEE
—Christine, via e-mail
A.Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) is transmitted to horses (and humans) by certain species of mosquitoes. The disease persists from year to year as there is a natural reservoir of the EEE virus in birds. Blood feeding by infected female mosquitoes transmits infection to birds, which then pass the infection to other mosquitoes who subsequently bite them. This completes an annually occurring cycle of virus spread from the mosquitoes to the reservoir species and back again.
Horses become ill when infected mosquitoes from this natural mosquito-bird cycle bite them. It is highly unlikely that spread from horse to horse, horse to human, or human to horse can occur as virus levels do not get sufficiently high post infection in these species to infect a mosquito that subsequently bites. Horses and humans are, therefore, known as ‘dead-end hosts’ as there is no potential for further
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