Mosquitoes: More Than Just A Nuisance

by | 04.29.2019 | 2:14pm

Mosquitoes are annoying, but they're more than just a nuisance—they can carry diseases that harm the neurologic system of both horses and humans. The diseases that affect both horses and humans include:

  • West Nile virus (WNV)
  • Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE)
  • Western equine encephalitis (WEE)
  • Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE)

West Nile Virus (WNV) does not always cause clinical signs in horses that have it; some horses will have a fever and issues with blinking, chewing and swallowing. The disease may also cause ataxia, hind end weakness or paralysis. The fatality rate for horses infected with WNV are about 33 percent; nearly 40 percent of horses that recover from the disease will have some neurologic deficit.

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) typically occurs in the United States East of the Mississippi River; it causes serious neurologic issues in horses and has a 90 percent fatality rate. Dubbed “sleeping sickness” as affected horses appear sleepy; they also will have a fever and an uncoordinated gait. Horses with EEE may also have muscle twitches. Most cases of EEE occur in late summer and fall.

With each of these infections, a horse is not able to spread the disease to another animal–a mosquito is required to spread the infection. Horses and humans are considered dead-end hosts. Though birds and rodents can carry the disease, they don't show any signs of infection themselves.

Each of these diseases is preventable with a once- or twice-yearly vaccination.

Read more at Stable Management.

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