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Horse Owners Urged to Vaccinate Against Mosquito-Borne Illness

Warm weather is near and so is mosquito season, and state health officials are urging horse owners to vaccinate their animals against the mosquito-borne illnesses Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as EEE, and West Nile virus.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer protection, there were 19 confirmed cases of EEE and seven cases of West Nile in the state last year. State veterinarian Paul McGraw says both diseases are caused by mosquitoes carrying the virus from infected birds and biting warm blooded animals, and says the diseases can be deadly. He lists the warning signs…

“…so horses, both of these viruses, you’ll see depression, appetite loss, sometimes you’ll see a drooping eyelid, lower lip. They’ll often have a fever and they often can be severe to the point where they’re showing some neurological signs…”

McGraw says EEE and West Nile can be prevented with two doses of vaccinations and annual booster shots. He also recommends limiting horses’ exposure to mosquitoes…

“…So any type of bug control things in the area. Looking around for things like wading pools, areas of stagnant water like old tires or tin cans. Any place where water is stagnant and mosquitoes can reproduce in. Try to reduce those things around your areas…”

McGraw says neither of the viruses is contagious between horses and says while humans may be infected by the viruses, it does not pass between people and horses. For more information visit the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection website.

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