Second horse dies from EEE; state urges livestock vaccinations

VERMONT — State officials are urging all horse owners in Vermont to get their animals vaccinated against Eastern equine encephalitis after they determined last week that a second horse in Franklin County died from the mosquito-borne disease.
“Vermont owners of horses, camelids, and emus, regardless of where their animals are located in the state, should consult with their veterinarians to ensure that these susceptible animals are appropriately vaccinated for EEE,” said Dr. Kristin Haas, Vermont state veterinarian. “Susceptibility of horses, camelids and emus to EEE infection is not linked to travel to shows, fairs or other commingling events. Even animals that spend the majority of their time on isolated properties are susceptible and should be vaccinated.”
Although vaccination is the most effective tool for preventing EEE in susceptible animals, Agency of Agriculture officials said owners may also protect them from infection by using an acceptable insect repellent seasonally and mechanical barriers such as fly sheets and face nets. Changing out water troughs regularly and removing other items that hold water will help to reduce mosquito breeding areas.
EEE is a serious disease that is transmitted to humans and some animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. Horses infected with the virus have a mortality rate approaching 100 percent.
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen said people also must take precautions after two men in northern Rutland County died from EEE a year ago. The state has already sprayed mosquito insecticide in Whiting, where the EEE virus was found in mosquitoes, and surrounding towns.
“We continue to urge all Vermonters, no matter where they live, to take actions to avoid mosquito bites until the first killing frost,” he said. “Wherever there are mosquitoes, there is the possibility of EEE or West Nile virus.”
A killing frost is defined as below 28 degrees for at least several hours.
The Health Department offered the following suggestions to fight the bite:
1.      Stay inside or limit the amount of time spent outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active and biting.
2.      Use insect repellents labeled as being effective against mosquitoes.
3.      Cover up with long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes, hat and head net when possible.
4.      Dump standing water from around your house twice a week.

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