A horse in Lincoln County has tested positive for a mosquito-borne illness.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced yesterday that two horses in the state have contracted Eastern Equine Encephalitis. In addition to the horse in Lincoln County, the other was in Clark County.
State veterinarian Robert Ehlenfeldt says, “Horse owners who have not already had their animals vaccinated this year for EEE (Triple E) and other mosquito-borne diseases should take this as a warning, and those who have vaccinated should check with their veterinarians to see whether a booster is indicated.”
He went on to say that with Northern Wisconsin’s wet summer, the mosquito population is high. EEE may be transmitted by mosquito bite to horses, birds, and humans. Although humans may also contract EEE, no human cases have been reported in Wisconsin. The virus follows mosquito populations and normally emerges in mid- to late summer, remaining a threat until the first killing frost followed by continuing cool weather.
Symptoms in horses include depression, loss of appetite, drooping eyelids, blindness and sometimes paralysis. There is no cure; the disease has a mortality rate of 90 percent or higher.
In addition to vaccination, owners can take steps to reduce their animals’ exposure to mosquitoes. They should eliminate standing water by removing objects like old tires or even the folds in tarps where water collects, and frequently changing water in water troughs, bird baths and similar containers. Owners should also keep their animals insides barns if possible from dusk through dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.