The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has confirmed another positive case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in horses for 2009, bringing the total statewide to eight. Most cases have been in the Tidewater area of Virginia, which is typical.

The new equine case is a male horse from New Kent County. The horse became ill on September 7th and was euthanized on that date. Samples submitted to the Ivor Regional Animal Health Laboratory were forwarded to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, IA for testing. The horse had not been vaccinated for EEE.

To date there have been three equine cases of EEE in Chesapeake, two in Suffolk, and one each in New Kent, Prince George and Southampton Counties. Earlier a horse was reported in Loudoun County, but on further testing, it was negative.

“There is no cure for EEE,” explained Dr. Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian, “and unlike West Nile Virus, few horses survive the disease. There are effective vaccines, however. So far this year, all of the positive EEE horses had not been vaccinated or hadn’t been vaccinated recently for the disease.”

VDACS encourages horse owners to vaccinate their horses every six to twelve months against EEE. This is particularly important in the Southeastern region of Virginia, where many veterinarians recommend the six-month vaccination interval. Vaccination includes an initial shot, with a booster six weeks later, then boosters every six to twelve months. Vaccinations must be administered correctly and in a timely fashion to be effective.