Mosquito-borne horse disease falls under watchful eyes

By Peter Kent

HorseThe virus bides its time in the bellies of willing mosquitos, concealed in swamps until the opportunity for infection emerges.  

When it does strike, eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) can be deadly, especially to horses and other livestock.  

In South Carolina, the alarm is raised by Boyd Parr, state veterinarian and director of Clemson University Livestock-Poultry Health. Parr reported six cases of the mosquito-borne illness in 2012 -- in Horry, Darlington, Marlboro, Kershaw and Marion counties.  

Nine of 10 horses infected with EEE virus die from the disease. In horses, symptoms usually develop from two to five days after exposure. "These diagnoses are a vivid reminder of the threat this and other mosquito-borne diseases are to horses in our state," Parr said. "Protecting horses through vaccination is very important."  

Parr urges horse owners to consult with their veterinarian to be sure vaccinations against both EEE and West Nile Virus are up-to-date. West Nile Virus also was reported in a York County horse in 2012.  

State law requires that any livestock that display symptoms such as stumbling, circling, head pressing, depression or apprehension must be reported to the state veterinarian’s office at 803-788-2260 within 48 hours.  

Learn more about Clemson Livestock Poultry Health at: