Three Canadian horses die of Eastern Equine Encephalitis

The horses lived closed to each other in the same county and none were vaccinated against the fatal neurological disease.

Three horses in the same county in Ontario, Canada recently died of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

Caused by a virus that is spread mainly by mosquitoes, EEE disease damages a horse’s central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. After an initial incubation period of five to 10 days, a horse may at first appear listless and lose his appetite. Within 24 hours, he will show neurological signs such as incoordination, head pressing and seizures. A day later, he may be comatose and unresponsive until death. The disease is fatal in 90 percent of cases and survivors are likely to have lifelong neurological impairment.

EEE is spread primarily mosquitos, which feed on birds who harbor the virus, then transit it to horses. Horses are considered dead-end hosts, meaning they cannot spread it to other animals.

The three Canadian horses, all from Lambton County, were two geldings who lived on the same property and a yearling mare kept on a farm five miles away, according to the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC). All the horses began showing neurological signs on September 22 and the diagnosis was confirmed on October 9. One of the geldings and the mare died in the course of the disease, and the other gelding was euthanatized. None of the horses had been vaccinated against EEE.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) includes EEE on its list of “core vaccines,” which are recommended for the majority of horses.>>> Click here to read more about EEE vaccination, and all core vaccinations. 

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