The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has confirmed the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a horse this year. The horse, a two-year-old female draft cross from Chesapeake, was confirmed positive for EEE late in the afternoon of July 10. Because of the severity of her symptoms – incoordination, depression, and fever (105° F), progressing to an inability to stand without help – she was euthanized on July 3, prior to diagnosis. The horse had not been vaccinated for EEE.

This is the first reported case of EEE in a horse in Virginia this year. Last year the state had only one case, reported in September. So far there have been no reported cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Virginia horses this year.

In an April 2009 press release, Dr. Richard Wilkes, VDACS’ State Veterinarian, encouraged horse owners to work with their veterinarians to plan a vaccination schedule that would protect their horses from EEE. Available vaccines are effective in drastically reducing the incidence of both EEE and WNV in horses. The vaccines are effective for six to twelve months, so horses should be re-vaccinated at least annually. In an area where the disease occurs frequently, such as southeast and Tidewater Virginia, most veterinarians recommend vaccination every six months.

For more information, please contact the Office of the State Veterinarian at 804.692.0601 or consult your local veterinarian.