I’m back again with the latest Rutgers scoop! I hope you remember my last blog post, “Spring Cleaning” about how to prepare your barn for the spring; now, I’m hear to tell you about how to prepare your horses for the spring.
Warmer weather leads to mosquitoes. And with mosquitoes, come nasty diseases! Luckily, there are annual vaccines that help protect us from those diseases. The horses at the Equine Science Center received their annual boosters last week and are set for summer protection!
There are four diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes from bird hosts: Eastern/Western/Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE/WEE/VEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV). The viruses live in birds, but typically are unaffected. A mosquito has to bite an infected bird, and then bite a horse to transmit the virus. Luckily, they are not contagious between horse-to-horse! All four viruses cause inflammation of the brain and/or spinal cord.
EEE/WEE/VEE symptoms are:
- drooping ears
- abnormal gait and circling
- recumbency or leaning
WNV symptoms are:
- muscle twitching
- partial paralysis
Supportive care is the only treatment; however, prevention is the best thing for your horse. Vaccinations and limiting mosquito exposure by keeping horses inside during dusk and dawn (where mosquito activity is high), remove standing water, avoid lights inside stables, and using repellants is the best preventable measure.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop them from biting me but at least I know that I am protected. I really wish they would invent a horse-y backscratcher! I guess my fellow pasture buddy will have to do until then!
Stay tuned for more information on vaccines. And remember always to consult with your veterinarian for an appropriate vaccine schedule for your horse.