EEE in sentinel chicken in Frankford, DE — also EEE reported in a horse in Whaleyville, MD. This is a 50-sq. mile area. I vaccinated this May with a 5-way that included EEE. Hoping this was sufficient! The wet wet summer and hot moist conditions have really hatched the bugs so it was not a surprise that we’d have some of the mosquito-borne diseases come and get us….

Moist summer - lots of grass, and lots of mosquitos

Moist summer – lots of grass, and lots of mosquitos

EEE is Eastern Equine Encephalitis. It can be transferred to many species, including man, so an outbreak is watched pretty carefully. It’s technically known as a zoonotic alphavirus. It’s also known as “sleeping sickness”. Here is the Wikipedia definition:
“After inoculation by the vector, the virus travels via lymphatics to lymph nodes, and replicates in macrophages and neutrophils, resulting in lymphopenia, leukopenia and fever. Subsequent replication occurs in other organs leading to viremia. Symptoms in horses occur one to three weeks after infection, and begins with a fever that may reach as high as 106 °F (41 °C). The fever usually lasts for 24–48 hours.
Nervous signs appear during the fever that include sensitivity to sound, periods of excitement, and restlessness. Brain lesions appear, causing drowsiness, drooping ears, circling, aimless wandering, head pressing, inability to swallow, and abnormal gait. Paralysis follows, causing the horse to have difficulty raising its head. The horse usually suffers complete paralysis and death two to four days after symptoms appear. Mortality rates among horses with the eastern strain range from 70 to 90%.”

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The government (Center for Disease and Control) has a link to the disease here:  http://www.cdc.gov/EasternEquineEncephalitis/index.html I took a look at the geographic information linked there and it’s woefully out of date. Those of us who live on the Eastern Shore/southern Delaware area know that the wild ponies on Assateague are not vaccinated the way we keep our own horses up to date. We can guess about the infection rate. While they say the mosquito bites actually get the disease from birds and pass on to the horses, the horses themselves (or humans) are not a source of the infection once bitten. So we can’t blame unvaccinated horses.


The common thread when you speak with veterinarians, or look up horse care norms online, is keep your horses vaccinated regularly with the vaccinations that they have on the market, and hope for the best. It’s a big world with a lot of danger. Control what you can, I think.

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