On November 25, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) officials confirmed a donkey with eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) in a private Orange County facility. The 4-year-old showed clinical symptoms on November 17, including lying down (being down and unable to climb). She had not been vaccinated and was put to sleep.
The case is Florida’s 22nd confirmed case of electrical and electronic equipment in horses in 2020.
Eastern equine encephalomyelitis is caused by the eastern equine encephalitis virus, for which wild birds are a natural reservoir. Mosquitoes that feed on birds infected with electrical and electronic equipment can spread the virus to humans, horses, and other birds. Horses do not develop enough levels of these viruses in their blood to be contagious to other animals or humans. Electrical and electronic equipment is considered to be one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States due to the high death rate in horses and humans.
Tips for preventing mosquito-borne diseases include:
- Avoid mosquito bites: Use insect repellant outdoors, especially from dusk until dawn.
- Look for EPA-labeled products that contain active ingredients like DEET, picaridin (KBR3023), or lemon eucalyptus oil (p-menthane-3,8-diol).
- If mosquitoes start to bite, apply more repellent according to the directions on the label.
- Mosquito-proof homes: Attach or install window and door grilles and cover or remove empty containers with standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
- Protect Your Horses: Veterinarians recommend commercially approved electrical and electronic equipment vaccines for all horses in the United States. Horses should be vaccinated at least once a year (recommendations vary in risk areas). It’s not too late to vaccinate your horses this year.
- Use approved insect repellants to protect horses.
- If possible, keep horses in stables, stables or barns during the main mosquito hours at dusk and dawn.
- Eliminate standing water, drain the water troughs, and empty the buckets at least weekly.
- Store water tanks with fish that eat mosquito larvae (contact your local mosquito control for assistance) or use mosquito dunking (solid “donuts” made by Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis)[BTi]which are non-toxic to horses) in hardware stores.