A horse in Ontario was recently diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a serious neurological disease caused by a virus of the same name, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. The horse was from the North Durham region. The last reported cases of EEE in Ontario were in 2004. A few weeks ago, the Worms & Germs Blog talked about a large number of cases of EEE that have been reported in Florida this year.
Here are some of the key points to remember about EEE:
- Like West Nile, EEE is a seasonal disease. It is more common in warmer areas, especially some regions of the southeastern US. It is rare in cooler climates, but occasionally EEE is found in horses in Ontario.
- EEE is usually fatal in horses, and there is no effective treatment.
- EEE can also occur in people, and can be fatal in some cases.
- Infected horses cannot transmit the EEE virus to people, but if a horse gets EEE from the mosquitoes in the area, then people could also potentially be exposed to the virus by mosquitoes.
- A vaccine for EEE is available for horses, but most horses in Ontario are not vaccinated for EEE because it is so rare. Nonetheless, vaccination can be considered because the disease is so devastating when it occurs.
- As for West Nile virus, avoiding mosquitoes – for both horses and people – is an important preventative measure for EEE.
For more information, see the Worms & Germs Blog post "Eastern Equine Encephalitis – Not Just For Horses", or the CDC’s website on arboviral encephalitides.