What to Know About EEE and WNV
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV) are viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. While uncommon, infections can be devastating or even deadly. Here is what you need to know about EEE and WNV and how to keep your animal companion safe.
The good news is that both EEE and WNV infections are exceedingly rare in dogs and cats, though some cases of WNV and EEE have been reported in both (mass.gov). The cases of EEE have been limited to puppies living in the southeastern United States exclusively outside (mass.gov). Unlike human and other animal cases, cats or dogs who have contracted either illness typically will fully recover. However, nobody wants to be in the minority on this, so it is still important to prepare.
Other animals, including horses, llamas, alpacas, emus, ostriches, pheasants, and quails are more inclined to contract WNV andEEE from infected mosquitoes and these animals may not recover, so extra precautions should be taken to keep them out of harm’s way. If bitten by an infected mosquito, horses, llamas, and alpacas may contract encephalitis, a condition in which the brain swells causing disorientation, depression, fever, irritability, and blindness, among other neurological symptoms (mass.gov). Instead of encephalitis, birds will develop gastrointestinal bleeding, which could lead to sudden death (mass.gov).
Prevention, as usual, is your animal companion’s best defense against getting sick. Since EEE and WNV are transmitted by mosquitoes, your best bet is to avoid mosquito bites. According to the Bureau of InfectiousDiseases and Laboratory Sciences for Massachusetts, there are several things you can do to reduce your animal’s risk of getting bitten by a mosquito:
· Ensure that there is no standing water on your property. Mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant water, so don’t give them a home near your animals.
· Remove any accumulating piles of leaves, grass, or manure. Mosquito larvae feed on this dense matter as it decays.
· Try to avoid having your animal outside during dusk and dawn, prime times for mosquito activity. If you plan on keeping your animal in a barn or stall overnight, keep the lights turned off. Mosquitoes are attracted to light.
· Make sure that all screens in windows and doors are sealed tightly and have no holes through which mosquitoes can enter.
· For horses, there is a vaccine that has been approved for use. This vaccine has shown some success in llamas and alpacas as well, though it is not specifically approved for those animals. Consult your veterinarian about the possibility and timing of vaccinations.
· Use mosquito repellant that has been formulated and approved for use with animals.We love Earth Animal’s Nature’s Protection Herbal Bug Spray. It is an all-natural formula that keeps the mosquitoes (and, as an added bonus, fleas and ticks) at bay. Spray on your animal’s paws and underbelly and mist the back and neck whenever you’ll be outside, especially in high mosquito areas like woods. This all-natural herbal formulation is so safe and effective, it can be used on people, too, making it the only product you’ll need for entire family insect protection.
While it is unlikely that your animal companion will become infected with EEE or WNV, it is always smart to be prepared. Follow the tips above, and you’ll be doing everything you can to keep your animal safe and sound.