Mosquito Season Brings Threat of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., is urging horse owners to vaccinate their animals for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV).

“Between the heat and recent wet weather from Tropical Storm Cristobal, the conditions are perfect for mosquitoes,” said Strain. “Horses are infected the same way humans are infected – by being bitten by infected mosquitoes – so everyone needs to take extra precautionary measures at this time.”

At this time, there is one WNV case reported in a horse in St. Tammany Parish. If a mosquito bites an infected bird, EEE or WNV can be spread to horses, dogs, cats and humans. These mosquito-transmitted diseases can cause inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

Clinical signs can include: fever, loss of appetite, weakness and loss of coordination.

The disease can often result in death.

EEE primarily causes disease in the equine species such as horses, mules, donkeys and zebras. However, a number of other animals such as pigs, llamas, bats, reptiles, amphibians, and rodents can also be infected.

WNV primarily affects birds, but can also infect bats, horses, cats, dogs, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels, domestic rabbits, alligators and humans.

Prevention includes removing standing water where mosquitoes breed and using mosquito repellents that are safe for animals and humans. Horses can also be vaccinated. So far, there is no vaccination approved for people. Horse owners should contact their local veterinarian regarding proper vaccination protocols during this time of increased risk.

Veterinarians are required to call the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry if they suspect EEE or WNV in a horse as they are reportable diseases.

3 thoughts on “Mosquito Season Brings Threat of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus

  1. I had West Nile Virus several years ago which was diagnosed by blood test at the hospital. It is not fun — fever of 104, seeing double, stiff and painful joints, no energy, etc. At that time the city had been told to report any dead birds to the Natchitoches Parish Health Department. There were 2 dead birds in my yard, but the health department told me not to worry. They did not come get the birds to test for the virus. If history repeats itself, we will have no help this time.

  2. Natchitoches parish and the state of Louisiana’s Department if Health & Hospitals continues to permit open cesspools in residential neighborhoods, subdivisions, and single family dwellings throughout the state. There is no way you can keep the mosquito population and West Nile virus plus any other mosquito-borne pathogens in check with this medieval method of treatment of human waste.

    EVERYONE should be required to have septic tanks/underground treatment systems if not on a municipal treatment system.

    Cesspools/oxidation ponds For individual residential use should be phased outlawed.

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