Florida Horse Owners Urged to Vaccinate Against Fatal Disease

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    EEE has had a small breakout in the eastern U.S.

    Horse owners are being reminded by state officials to protect their animals against Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) after several cases have already been confirmed around the state so far this year.

    Last week, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warned that nine cases of EEE had been confirmed in the state before the peak of the season that starts in May. In 2007, a total of 18 EEE cases were confirmed statewide.

    The disease has been confirmed in horses in Putnam, Lake, Polk, Columbia, Clay and Volusia counties, according to the agency. All of the cases were fatal.

    “I am very concerned about the high number of cases so early in the year, and I hope it doesn’t mean we are in for a bad year,” said Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson. “But we can take steps to keep that from happening, and that is to get the vaccinations done as quickly as possible.”

    EEE is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes and usually results in the death of the animal. Symptoms can include fever, listlessness and stumbling.

    States throughout the East and Southeast are particularly prone to EEE outbreaks. The Midwest and West are susceptible to outbreaks of Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (WEE), which is also spread by mosquitoes and is just as deadly as its Eastern counterpart.

    The American Association of Equine Practitioners has published guidelines on EEE and WEE vaccination at /redirect.php?location=http%3a%2f%2fwww.aaep.org%2feee_wee.htm.

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