A local veterinarian says a dozen horses in this five parish area have died over the past three weeks from Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The vet says none of the horses had been vaccinated against the deadly virus.
"Sarge." grazing in a pasture south of Lake Charles, is happy, healthy and properly vaccinated against Eastern Equine Encephalitis along with other deadly diseases. Eastern Encephalitis is transmitted to horses by mosquitos, which are thick right now.
Veterinarian Dr. Ted Shope warns all horse owners need to vaccinate their animals. "All of the patients that have not been vaccinated have died."
Dr Shope says a lot of horse owners have the idea that West Nile is the only threat when Eastern Encephalitis is more deadly. "Eastern Encephalitis is a much more deadly disease that West Nile, especially to our equine patients," said Shope.
He recommends a combination vaccine that protects against Eastern and Western Encephalitis and West Nile. It runs about thirty dollars and no doctor visit is needed. He demonstrates to a novice how easy it is to give the shot at home. "Hold it straight. Push, push, push! There you go. Now give the shot. Now pull it out. Look at that," said Shope after the shot was successfully administered.
Without immunization the horses seem to have little chance of survival. "That's why it's critical that the equine community get at least one vaccination and a month later a booster shot if the mosquito population remains high. Just because a horse is vaccinated doesn't mean that he won't get the virus. Generally it does mean that if he gets the virus he will survive," said Shope.
So he urges everyone to get their horses vaccinated before it's too late.
Dr. Shope points out people can get Eastern Encephalitis too-- though not from horses. So everyone will likely want to protect themselves from the mosquitoes. there is no vaccine for people.