Horse owners who have not had their animals vaccinated against Eastern Equine Encephalitis must do so, said LSU AgCenter veterinarian Dr. Steve Nicholson. The disease was discovered recently in horses in DeSoto and Calcasieu parishes.
“It’s not unusual to have several horses in one area affected,” Nicholson said. “It’s been a few years since an outbreak, so it’s not unexpected to have one.”
Nicholson said Louisiana horse owners need to protect their animals each year against Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus.
The diseases are transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes, and acute cases of some of these diseases can be fatal.
“Basic vaccination of adult horses should include annual or semi-annual booster shots for Eastern, Western and West Nile Virus encephalitis,” Nicholson said.
Vaccinations will help protect horses from the diseases. But if a horse hasn’t been vaccinated in recent years, two shots are required for ultimate protection, the veterinarian said.
“These shots are given one month apart,” Nicholson said. “So if a horse hasn’t been vaccinated in a few years, the owner will want to be sure to get these vaccinations done immediately.”
Nicholson also said foals and colts of immunized mares should receive an initial series of the vaccine at 3 months to 6 months of age. Foals of unvaccinated mares can be vaccinated at 1 month and receive the booster monthly through 6 months of age. Horse owners should contact their veterinarians for specific advice.
A. Denise Coolman
(This article was published in the fall 2004 issues of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.)
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture