Local News

Horse contracts fatal mosquito-borne disease in Cumberland County

Posted July 31, 2019 10:52 a.m. EDT

— A horse in Cumberland County was euthanized after contracting a mosquito-borne disease, the state’s Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

The horse, a 4-year-old mare, was not vaccinated against eastern equine encephalomyelitis.

It was the first case of the disease in North Carolina this year, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said.

The disease causes inflammation of the brain and is usually fatal.

It can take between three and 10 days for symptoms to show after a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito.

Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, inability to swallow, irregular gait, paralysis, convulsions and death.

State Veterinarian Dr. Doug Meckes said in a statement that any horses with such symptoms to contact a veterinarian immediately.

“It is imperative that horse owners keep their vaccines current, talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating them as soon as possible against EEE and West Nile virus,” Meckes said.

He recommended a booster shot every six months.

Because mosquitos breed in puddles, removing standing water can reduce the chance of exposure to the disease.

While people, horses and birds can become ill from an infected mosquito, there is no evidence horses can transmit the virus to other horses, birds or people through direct contact.