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Mosquito-Born Infections

Did you know that the risk of mosquito-borne infections is still high in the fall?

Mosquito-borne infections are transmitted to horses through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes act as vectors, carrying the pathogens from one animal to another. The presence of these vectors in an area can contribute to the accumulation and persistence of viruses. Because the mosquito population remains strong in many areas of Wisconsin until we receive our first frost, transmission rates remain high.

What does this mean for you?

If your horse wasn’t vaccinated this spring for the following mosquito-borne viruses, they should be vaccinated as soon as possible:

Equine Encephalitis Viruses: There are several types of encephalitis viruses that affect horses. The most common in our area is Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). EEE can cause inflammation of the brain and neurological symptoms such as lethargy, difficulty walking, and even death.

West Nile Virus: Horses infected with West Nile Virus may develop fever, neurological signs (ataxia, weakness, stumbling), and muscle twitching. There have been three reported cases of WNV in Wisconsin since June of this year. All three mares were under-vaccinated. Two of these cases resulted in the death of the horse.

Reported cases of EEE and WNV do not necessarily reflect the number of actual cases in Wisconsin. When a horse dies, many times no testing is done to determine the exact cause of death. The actual number of horses impacted by EEE and WNV is likely much higher than what has been reported.

Your horse may also need a flu/rhino booster this fall if they were vaccinated early in the spring. Vaccine duration can vary depending on the specific disease and the vaccine used. The flu/rhino vaccine provides six months of coverage. Your horse may need to receive a booster if they are leaving their home farm over the winter.

It’s important that you work with Dr. Suzanne to develop a vaccination schedule that aligns with your horse’s individual needs, risk factors, and potential exposure. She can provide guidance on which vaccines are appropriate for your horse and the recommended timing for boosters.

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