Spike in West Nile and Encephalitis cases in horses

BATON ROUGE, LA — The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry says 16 horses have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis and one for West Nile Virus since June 5 of this year.  Commissioner Mike Strain says the cases serve as a good reminder for horse owners in the state to vaccinate their animals.

“It’s been a wet season and we are seeing an unusually high number of cases at this time,” Strain said in a written statement announcing the cases.

Horses become infected with the diseases the same way as humans, by being bitten by an infected mosquito.  The conditions can cause inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord.  Infected animals often display symptoms like fever, loss of appetite, weakness, and loss of coordination, Strain says.  The diseases are often fatal.

Strain says other animals like mules, donkeys and even zebras can be infected with EEE along with pigs, llamas, bats, reptiles, amphibians and rodents.  WNV primarily infects birds but can also affect bats, cats, dogs, chipmunks, skunks, rabbits, and alligators.

Pet owners can take precautions by removing standing water from around their properties.  Also, check with your veterinarian to determine if there’s a mosquito repellant that is safe for use on your animal.

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