Florida reports 1st Eastern Equine Encephalitis case in Columbia County horse

The Florida Department Agriculture and Consumer Services reported on a Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) case in a 4-year-old pony from Columbia County in northern Florida.

The unvaccinated horse presented with signs of apprehension, depression, fever, muscle twitch, incoordination, inability to stand, and head pressing, and listlessness earlier this month.

The animal is deceased.

This is the first EEE case reported in Columbia County and in the state of Florida this year.

EEE is a mosquito-transmitted disease that is much more severe than West Nile Virus (WNV).  The mortality rate in horses from WNV is reported at around 30%, while the rate for EEE is almost 90%.  Infected mosquitoes are the primary source for EEE.

The virus causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord.  General symptoms include central nervous system signs such as: head pressing, convulsions, lack of response to facial stimulation, fever above 103 degrees, ataxia, paralysis, anorexia, depression and stupor.  Other symptoms may include irregular gait, teeth grinding, in-coordination, circling, and staggering.  All symptoms may not be exhibited by an infected horse.

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