Once infected, it takes approximately 5-15 days for signs to show up. These signs can be very mild such as a fever and depression; or severe including blindness, stumbling, seizures or death. Any neurologic signs could be indicative of EEE, however other diseases such as rabies must be considered as well, and a diagnosis should be confirmed via testing. Unfortunately, a diagnosis is often obtained post-mortem. If EEE is suspected, the state veterinarian must be contacted and the disease needs to be reported.
The disease is seasonal and usually lasts from July to November in this area. It is mainly dependent upon the mosquito population, as they are the main vector. Warm temperatures and standing water promote mosquito reproduction.
Treatment for EEE consists of supportive care. There is not a cure for this disease. The best thing for EEE is prevention. Be sure that your horses are vaccinated. While vaccines are not always 100% effective they do lessen the severity of the disease. If your horse is vaccinated by a veterinarian, and your horse becomes infected, most drug companies carry a guarantee on that vaccine which will help with the finances of treatment. In this area, horses should be vaccinated yearly against this virus. We recommend the vaccine be administered sometime in the spring, prior to peak season.
Eastern Equine Enecphalomyelitis is a scary disease, for humans and horses. Unfortunately it appears that it is becoming a more prominent disease in our area. Be sure to take measures to protect yourself as well as your horses, and always keep that fly swatter handy.