Noble Life

Mosquito season is here, is your horse ready?

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The warm weather is finally here but so is the seasonal fly and mosquito season. There are several measures you can take to make sure your horse will be protected against mosquito borne diseases.

The most common mosquito borne diseases that are transmitted to horses in North America are Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE), Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (WEE), and West Niles Virus Encephalomyelitis (WNV). These viruses cause encephalomyelitis or inflammation in the brain or/spinal cord that can lead to central nervous system dysfunction in the horse. Signs include can include general signs of illness like low-grade fever, anorexia, muscle tremors, or signs of colic. Encephalomyelitic horses also show neurologic signs such as incoordination, head pressing, circling, difficulty swallowing, recumbency with the inability to rise, grinding teeth, convulsions and even death. If any of these signs are present in your horse you should consult your veterinarian immediately.

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Has your horse been vaccinated this spring for the mosquito borne diseases: West Nile Virus, Eastern and Western Encephalitis?

Encephalomyelitis diseases can be fatal, therefore it is important that horse owners take the necessary steps to prevent disease outbreak in their animals. Here are a few ways to help prevent mosquito borne illness this summer.

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Make sure to empty water troughs not in use or any other container collecting stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed.

1) Vaccinate your horse. Many veterinarians recommend at least a yearly vaccine booster with EEE, WEE, and WNV in previously vaccinated horses. Many veterinarians recommend vaccinating more frequently (bi-annually) in more endemic areas like Florida and some Southeastern states with a larger mosquito populations.
2) Drain standing water. Make sure that containers that can hold water are dumped to decrease the number of places that mosquitoes can lay their eggs. This includes buckets, ceramic pots, unused troughs, wheelbarrows, etc.
3) Topical sprays containing mosquito repellents are available for horses.

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Bring horses in from pasture during the peak times of the early dawn and dusk hours.

4) Protective clothing: Fly masks and sheets can protect horses especially in pasture from biting insects.
5) The peak times for mosquitoes are early dawn and dusk hours. Keeping animals inside during these periods reduces the exposure to getting bitten.
6) Use barn fans for stalled animals or keep windows open to encourage ventilation so air is kept moving for better protection.

Using these simple tips can help your horse to stay protected against mosquito illness and disease this summer.

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The Author:

Amy Wright was born and raised in the Central Valley of California. She grew up raising and showing a variety of animals from 4-H to National levels. While completing her Bachelor’s degree she was a member of the California State University, Fresno NCAA Equestrian team. Cutting and Sorting are her current passions although she has shown a variety of disciplines from Hunter/Jumper, Western Pleasure, Reining and Barrel Racing. She is a recent graduate from St. Matthew’s University in Grand Cayman and completed her clinical year at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Ok. She was the St. Matthew’s American Association of Equine Practitioners Student Chapter President and has received awards such as a 2012 Winner’s Circle Equine Scholarship Recipient and 2013 Abaxis Award for Excellence in Equine Medicine.

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