EEE ALERT! Virus Diagnosed in 5 Horses in 4 NC Counties
Story Date: 8/15/2020

See the announcement below from the NC Department of Agriculture:

Good morning everyone.

This equine arbovirus health alert is to notify you that we have received notification of clinical signs consistent with serology for a presumptive diagnoses of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in the following counties. The previous email incorrectly listed three horses in Columbus County. One of those horses was actually in Bladen County.

  • Bladen County - A 15-year-old unvaccinated mare 
  • Brunswick County - A 4-year-old unvaccinated gelding
  • Columbus County – A 15-month-old unvaccinated stallion; An 8-year-old unvaccinated gelding
  • Durham County - A 2-year-old unvaccinated horse

EEE causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord and is usually fatal. Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to 10 days for signs of the disease to appear.

"If your horses exhibit any symptoms of EEE, contact your veterinarian immediately," said State Veterinarian Doug Meckes. "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."

The vaccinations initially require two shots, 30 days apart, for horses, mules and donkeys that have no prior vaccination history. Meckes recommends a booster shot every six months in North Carolina because of the state's prolonged mosquito season.

Mosquitoes can breed in any puddle that lasts for more than four days, so removing any source of standing water can reduce the chance of exposing animals to WNV or EEE. Keeping horses in stalls at night, using insect screens and fans and turning off lights after dusk can also help reduce exposure to mosquitoes. Insect repellants can be effective if used according to manufacturers' instructions.

People, horses and birds can become infected from a bite by a mosquito carrying the diseases, but there is no evidence that horses can transmit the viruses to other horses, birds or people through direct contact.


NC Veterinary Medical Association
1611 Jones Franklin Road, Suite 108
Raleigh, NC 27606-3376
Tel: (919) 851-5850
Fax: (919) 851-5859