IBERVILLE PARISH - The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry says an unvaccinated horse in Iberville Parish has been infected with a potentially deadly mosquito-transmitted disease.
According to LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, the horse tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a severe virus that can infect both pets and humans.
Like the West Nile Virus, EEE is transmitted by mosquitoes and can cause inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. The virus can be spread to horses, dogs, cats and humans.
Commissioner Strain says the virus can often be deadly.
“This is the time of year mosquitoes are more prevalent. Horses are infected the same way humans are infected – by being bitten by infected mosquitoes - so everyone needs to take extra precautionary measures at this time,” Strain said.
Prevention methods include removing standing water where mosquitos breed, and using mosquito repellant that is safe for horses and humans. Horses can also be vaccinated, but there is currently no vaccination approved for humans.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, EEE is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States with a 33 percent mortality rate and significant brain damage in most survivors.
Horse owners should contact their local veterinarian regarding proper vaccination protocols.