Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin is urging horse owners to take precautions to protect their animals from Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), commonly called Triple E, is a mosquito-borne virus that causes inflammation or swelling of the brain.  In horses, it is fatal 70 to 90 percent of the time.

“I am encouraging Georgians who have horses to control mosquitoes around stables and keep horses vaccinated,” says Irvin. “Minimizing EEE risks is as simple as having your horse properly immunized.”   A vaccination for EEE is typically under $40.  A combined EEE/WNV vaccine is available which will also provide protection against West Nile Virus (WNV), another mosquito-borne disease.

Since January, there have been 11 confirmed cases (10 horses and one dog) in Berrien, Brantley, Brooks, Cook, Lanier, Long, Lowndes, Wayne and Ware counties. 

The disease is spread by mosquitoes.  Since mosquitoes breed in standing water, Irvin urges horse owners to closely monitor water in buckets, troughs, gutters and other containers that may serve as breeding grounds.  Thoroughly cleaning watering troughs every three to four days will keep larvae from developing.

Mosquito Dunks (contains Bti – Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis) and Mosquito Torpedo (contains methoprene) may be used where draining standing water is not possible.  Both Bti and methoprene are safe to use in animal drinking water.

Insect repellent is another means of protection for both horse and rider.  Hand-held foggers that use a pyrethroid insecticide can be used to reduce the numbers of adult mosquitoes in a yard or barn.  Using fans on stalls also helps reduce mosquito bites in the barn.

The EEE virus is not transmitted from person to person, horse to horse or horse to humans.  The disease can affect humans and dogs although it is not common.  Since there is not a vaccine for humans or canines, mosquito control and preventing mosquito bites are the best means of protection.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a Georgia RAD (Reportable Animal Disease).  State and federal regulations require the notification of the State Veterinarian’s office within 24-hours of laboratory confirmation.