EEE Confirmed in Young Palm Beach County, Florida, Horse

The 14-month-old vaccinated Arabian began showing clinical signs began on May 31 and was euthanized the same day.
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The Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) reported June 7 that a young Arabian from Palm Beach County, Florida, has been euthanized after contracting Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE). The case was confirmed on June 6.

“The 14-month-old, vaccinated Arabian had just moved within the county but had not been outside Palm Beach County since birth,” the EDCC statement said. “Clinical signs began on May 31 and the horse was euthanized for humane reasons the same day.”

This is the first confirmed EEE case in Palm Beach County and the fourth confirmed case in Florida for 2016, the EDCC reported.

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; fatality rates reach 75-80% among horses. Horses that survive might have long-lasting impairments and neurologic problems

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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