(WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) announced Monday, Aug. 19 that since June 5, sixteen horses have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis and one has tested positive for West Nile Virus.
Commissioner Mike Strain is taking the opportunity to remind horse owners to vaccinate their animals for the diseases.
“It’s been a wet season and we are seeing an unusually high number of cases at this time. 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.
LDAF says when a mosquito bites an infected bird, it can transfer the diseases to horses, humans, or even dogs and cats. These mosquito-transmitted diseases then cause inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Signs of the diseases include fever, loss of appetite, weakness, and loss of coordination, often resulting in death.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is typically seen in equine species such as horses, mules, donkeys, and zebras however, animals such as pigs, llamas, bats, reptiles, amphibians, and rodents can also be infected, LDAF says.
On the other hand, West Nile Virus typically affect birds, but can also affect bats, horses, cats, dogs, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels, domestic rabbits, alligators, and of course, humans.
LDAF says to prevent the spread of these diseases, standing water where mosquitoes breed should be dumped out. Repellents that are safe for humans and animals should be used to decrease risk of infection. Horses can be vaccinated, however, these is no approved vaccination for people.