First Tennessee Case of Deadly Horse Disease Reported in Blount Co.

MARYVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- Tennessee's first case of a deadly horse virus has been reported this week in Blount County.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture confirms a case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

The news release states that nearly 90% of the cases are fatal.

“Outbreaks of viral encephalitis in horses are a seasonal occurrence due to the prevalence of mosquitoes in late summer and early fall,” said Dr. Ron Wilson, state veterinarian with the Agriculture Department. “Horse owners should be aware of symptoms of viral encephalitis and consult their local veterinarian should their horse develop any of the signs associated with this group of diseases.”

The Department of Health is warning horse owners to be on alert for horses that show decreased alertness, blindness or impaired vision, aimless wandering, inability to swallow, or paralysis.

All are signs of EEE.

Dr. Wilson says vaccines can protect horses against EEE and West Nile Virus.

"EEE in humans is rarer than West Nile virus, but the fatality rate for people infected with EEE virus is much higher,” said Dr. Abelardo Moncayo, a state medical entomologist with the Department of Health. “Since there is no vaccine available for humans, people living near areas of EEE virus activity should avoid mosquito bites by using EPA registered insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, and by wearing clothes that cover the arms and legs.

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