The Ohio Department of Agriculture state veterinarian is asking Ashtabula County horse owners to get their animals vaccinated after a horse in Andover Township died Monday from eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).
“It was a 14-year-old Morgan filly,” said state veterinarian Tony Forshey, who urges horse owners to contact their veterinarian to ensure the animal’s EEE vaccine and boosters are up to date.
“This is a serious disease and the vaccine is very effective on EEE and also the West Nile virus,” he said. “EEE is spread through mosquitoes and can also affect people, so take steps to manage the mosquito population.”
Eastern equine encephalitis attacks the animal’s central nervous system and is usually fatal. Symptoms include unsteadiness, erratic behavior, a marked loss of coordination and seizures.
“It’s rare but it can be transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes,” he said.
To protect yourself, doctors suggest applying repellent, wearing protective clothing and staying inside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
Forshey says the virus also can cause serious illness in other animals such as poultry and deer. He urges horse owners to contact a licensed veterinarian immediately.
State officials say there have been no reports of any human cases associated with this latest outbreak in Ohio.