Vt. recommends EEE vaccine for horses

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Agency of Agriculture on Thursday recommended that all horses be vaccinated against Eastern Equine Encephalitis after a second horse died from the mosquito-borne illness.

This is first time there’s been evidence of EEE in Franklin County, where the two horses were located on separate properties, the agency said. Last year, two people and two horses from southern Addison and northern Rutland counties died from the illness.

While horses are the animals most susceptible to EEE, the virus can also sicken other mammals such as camelids like llamas and alpacas and emus, the agency said.

“Susceptibility of horses, camelids and emus to EEE infection is not linked to travel to shows, fairs or other commingling events,” said Dr. Kristin Haas, Vermont state veterinarian. “Even animals that spend the majority of their time on isolated properties are susceptible and should be vaccinated.”

Infected mammals often show neurologic signs such as incoordination, inability to stand, limb weakness or paralysis, seizures and deaths. Emus commonly develop hemorrhagic diarrhea, the agency said.

Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen also said this week that people who live in the Highgate and Swanton area are considered to be at high risk for EEE from mosquito bites. He is urging all Vermonters to take actions to avoid mosquito bites until the first killing frost.

Mammals infected with EEE are unable to transmit the disease to other animals or people.

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