Three Louisiana Horses Test Positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis

A blood-engorged mosquito on human skin.
A blood-engorged mosquito on human skin. PD-USGOV-HHS-CDC

Newsdate: September 16, 2020, 10:00 am
Location: BATON ROUGE, Louisiana

According to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, three horses have recently tested positive for a potentially deadly mosquito-borne illness in southern Louisiana, raising concerns from state officials about the increasing number of mosquitoes due to recent warm and wet weather.

Diagram of mosquito/bird to human and horse progression of EEE virus.

Diagram of mosquito/bird to human and horse progression of EEE virus

Hot and wet conditions exacerbated by storms such as Hurricane Laura have increased the number of mosquitoes that could be carrying viral horse diseases.
© 2016 by Department of Health New window.

A horse in Iberville Parish and two in Lafourche Parish recently tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis, a potentially deadly illness spread from mosquitoes that can sicken humans and other animals too.

Officials say the recent bout of humid and hot weather throughout the state has led to more mosquitoes in areas and has increased the risk of animals including those in the horse family, such as donkeys and mules contracting diseases mosquitoes spread.

“Mosquitoes are out in force right now,” Agriculture and Forestry Director Mike Strain said in a statement Tuesday. “The hot and wet conditions exacerbated by storms such as Hurricane Laura increase the number of mosquitoes that could be carrying diseases.”

In horses, symptoms often include fever, loss of appetite, weakness, loss of coordination and circling, all of which can sometimes lead to death. In rare cases, humans can develop similar symptoms that are also life-threatening and they are less protected because no vaccine exists for people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Infection.

Birds are carriers of the illness and pass it to mosquitoes which go on to bite other animals and spread the disease, similar to other ailments like West Nile virus, dengue fever and malaria.


Press release provided by Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Foresty

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