Officials urge vaccinating horses against mosquito-spread diseases

Officials urge vaccinating horses against mosquito-spread diseases

Officials are urging horse owners to protect against two mosquito-spread diseases by vaccinating their animals.

Officials from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Project said the warmer weather coming to Wisconsin means an increase in mosquitoes, which spread Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus.

According to a release, Wisconsin had 19 confirmed cases of EEE and seven cases of WNV last year, but there could have been more unconfirmed cases.

“Until we see our first mosquito, it’s easy to forget about vaccinations against these diseases,” said Dr. Julie McGwin, equine program manager for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s Division of Animal Health. “We’ve seen the sun emerge to warm things up and the mosquito population will multiply before you know it.”

Horses initially require two doses of the vaccinations initially, and then annual boosters , officials said.

Both viruses can be fatal to horses, with symptoms including depression, appetite loss, drooping eyelids and lower lip, fever, weakness, twitching, paralysis or lack of coordination, aimless wandering, circling and blindness, according to the release.

Neither of the viruses is contagious among horses, and they do not pass between people and horses, officials said.

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