Virginia Owners Advised to Vaccinate Horses

Don’t wait to vaccinate horses against diseases including West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis, and rabies.

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Mosquito season will begin soon in Virginia. That means it’s time for owners to start thinking about vaccinating horses against mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).

Additionally, while rabies is not a mosquito-borne disease, it’s a fatal condition that also requires an annual vaccination. Last year three horses died of rabies in Virginia, one each in Fairfax, Frederick, and Loudoun Counties.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is urging all horse owners to check with their veterinarians for vaccination recommendations for their animals. In 2015, Virginia only had one confirmed case of WNV (in Orange County) and three of EEE (unrelated cases from July through October, all in Chesapeake), although many surrounding states had a much higher incidence of cases.

“Timely vaccination has been shown to decrease WNV and EEE disease incidence drastically,” said Richard Wilkes, DVM, state veterinarian at the VDACS, “and that may explain why cases are down in Virginia. Without vaccination, we would expect to see many more infected horses, so we still urge horse owners to consider EEE and WNV vaccination. We believe that in most cases, private veterinarians will recommend them for their clients

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