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TAMU ANSC 210 - Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis

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Eastern and Western Equine EncephalitisEastern and Western equine encephalitis are both viral diseases, caused by Alphaviruses, that are typically transmitted by the bite of blood-feeding insects such as mosquitos. Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is usually found on the Eastern side of the Mississippi river in the U.S.while Western equine encephalitis (WEE) is found to the West. Severity differs between both viruses with EEE being more severe than WEE. While not all that are infected will show signs due to the body developing antibodies and effectively eliminating the virus before signs appear, most signs manifest throughout the nervous system and vary. Some common signs that are easilyobserved include reduced vision, head pressing, circling, irregular gait, weakness and paralysis, severe depression, death. Many infected horses will also have a fever and will exhibit a twitchingof the muzzle in the beginning of the course of the disease. A diagnosis is reached by identifying and comparing the location of the infected horse, the current season in the location, and known insects in the area that serve as vectors for the disease. Finding antibodies against the virus in theblood can also further support the diagnosis. There is not a specific treatment plan for EEE or WEE. Nursing care is the recommendation, administering IV fluids if the horse is not able to drink on its own and approved anti-inflammatory agents if needed. There are vaccines available for preventative care and owners should refer to their veterinarian for a recommendation on the appropriate vaccine and booster schedule that corresponds to the location of where the horse resides and guideline of the area. It is also recommended to keep the living areas clean of weeds and fecal matter, cleaning water containers weekly, and removing containers that have stagnant water. If possible, reducing exposure to mosquitos can also help prevent infection. The prognosisvaries depending on the specific virus infecting the horse. In some cases, horses that recover have neurologic damage that can be fatal. Typically, with EEE, deaths occur 2-3 days after signs appear because it is more severe. The survival rate for WEE is significantly higher than that of EEE at 70-80%.Equine Viral Encephalomyelitis (Encephalitis) - Horse Owners - Merck Veterinary Manual (merckvetmanual.com) USDA APHIS | Equine Encephalitis


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