A horse in Aitkin County died after contracting a mosquito-borne disease. This suggests that eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) mosquitoes are in the area and could infect humans as well.
The 7 year old hybrid gelding was confirmed last week that he has electrical and electronic equipment. Before it died, it was fluctuating, had visual problems and drooling excessively – all clinical signs of neurological disease, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health said in a message posted Thursday.
The horse, which has not had a trip in the past three months, tested negative for other diseases, including rabies, West Nile virus encephalitis, and Western equine encephalitis. It was last vaccinated against electrical and electronic equipment 18 months ago.
“EEE, WEE and WNV diseases in horses can be limited by vaccination protocols and lower exposure to mosquitos,” said Chief Veterinarian of the Board, Dr. Brian Hoefs, in a press release on Thursday. “While COVID-19 has restricted many horse-related activities, it is imperative to be vigilant about annual health screening, including core vaccinations. We encourage all horse owners to work with their veterinarians to develop strategies to prevent exposure and disease to EEE / WEE / WNV in their horses. “
There are at least 11 other horses on the property on which the horse lives, all of which appear healthy and have since received their first vaccinations against EEE / WEE / WNV, whose boosters are still pending.
Electrical and electronic equipment can cause fatal infections in horses, with electrical and electronic equipment being fatal in more than 90% of cases. Clinical signs of the virus are fever, lethargy, not eating, and walking aimlessly.
Electrical and electronic equipment and people
Electrical and electronic equipment, transmitted primarily by mosquitoes, can also cause fatal infections in humans. (Horses and humans are “dead end hosts,” which means they cannot pass the disease on to other horses or humans.)
The State Animal Board says cases of electrical and electronic equipment involving horses are “a clear indication” that mosquitoes infected with the virus are in the area and can infect humans.
According to the Mayo Clinic, EEE is a rare virus that can cause brain swelling. Symptoms usually begin 4 to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms can include headache, fever, chills, and vomiting. Signs and symptoms can worsen disorientation, seizures, and coma, and lead to brain damage or, in some cases, death.
The only way to reduce your chances of getting electrical and electronic equipment is to avoid mosquito bites, especially if you spend time outdoors and in the woods, Mayo says.
Mayo suggests using bug spray with DEET or picaridin, wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts outdoors, draining stagnant water from outdoor containers, putting screens on windows and doors, and treating clothing with permethrin to prevent mosquito bites.