Alabama horse owners advised to vaccinate for EEE & West Nile Virus

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is making a plea to horse owners to get their animals vaccinated. The message comes after horses in three Alabama counties tested positive for a virus mosquitoes carry.

Horses in Houston, Mobile and Geneva County tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). EEE causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The mortality rate for the virus is almost 90 percent.

“Unfortunately, mosquito-borne viruses like EEE and [West Nile Virus] are prevalent in Alabama’s warm and wet climate. Vaccinating is important to protect horses and ourselves,” stated Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries Commissioner John McMillan. “I want to encourage horse owners to take precautionary measures and vaccinate their horses.”

General symptoms of these viruses include central nervous system signs such as head pressing, convulsions, lack of response to facial stimulation, fever above 103 degrees, ataxia, paralysis, anorexia, depression and stupor.  Other symptoms may include irregular gait, teeth grinding, circling, and staggering. An infected horse may not exhibit all symptoms.

Veterinarians recommend vaccinating your horses against EEE and the West Nile Virus every six months.