The Indiana State Board of Animal Health is encouraging horse owners to update their animals’ vaccinations now that warm weather has arrived in order to ensure the best protection against disease-carrying mosquitoes. Vaccinations against diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus are available to protect horses, mules and donkeys with annual booster shots to maintain protection.
EEE can cause swelling of the brain, staggering, convulsions and fever in horses and can even be transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, while West Nile virus is a neurological disease that causes swelling of the brain, which can cause staggering, incoordination, weakness of limbs, ataxia, partial paralysis or death. WNV is transmitted by mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds, but is not known to be transmitted from man-to-horse or horse-to-man.
Dr. Sandra Norman, companion animal and equine veterinarian for the Board of Animal Health, recommends that owners take steps to reduce mosquito populations by draining any standing water on their property such as that in birdbaths, troughs and other containers. Insect repellents should also be used judiciously and in accordance with label directions.
Other vaccinations horse owners should look into are those for equine influenza, tetanus and rabies – combination shots of which are available. Horse owners should contact their local equine practitioner to schedule immunizations and ask about options.