A 7-year-old crossbred gelding horse in Aitkin County died and was confirmed to have had Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) last week.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported the EEE-positive results to the Board of Animal Health, and also reported the animal was negative for other diseases of concern including rabies, Western equine encephalitis (WEE) and West Nile virus encephalitis (WNV).

Before the horse died, it was showing clinical signs of neurologic disease including staggering, impaired vision, and excessive drooling. Samples were initially submitted to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for rabies testing.

The rabies samples were negative and additional tests were ordered for the other diseases.

“The diseases EEE, WEE, and WNV in horses can be limited through vaccination protocols and decreased exposure to mosquitoes,” said Board Senior Veterinarian, Dr. Brian Hoefs. “While COVID-19 has restricted many equine related activities, it is imperative to be vigilant about annual preventative care, including core vaccinations. We encourage all horse owners to work with their veterinarians to develop strategies for preventing EEE/WEE/WNV exposure and illness in their horses.”

The horse had no history of travel over the past three months and a reported last vaccination for EEE 18 months ago.

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