Health officials with the Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s Office of Animal Health Services State Veterinarian’s Office have detected an outbreak of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) among horses in portions of DeSoto and Caddo parishes.
To date, 10 horses in these parishes have been diagnosed with the disease. All these horses, as well as 10 other suspect horses, have died or been euthanized. Horse owners are advised to consult with their veterinarians about EEE vaccinations and to contact their veterinarians as soon as a horse becomes ill.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis, much like West Nile virus, is a mosquito-borne illness that can be transmitted to humans or animals through mosquito bites. However, symptoms from Eastern Equine Encephalitis are often more severe, and victims of that illness are more likely to die than those infected with West Nile virus.
No human cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been detected in Louisiana this year. To date, there have been 55 human cases of West Nile virus detected in Louisiana, as well as two confirmed cases of St. Louis encephalitis (one death) and three human cases of LaCrosse virus reported this year.
The Department of Health --- Office of Public Health laboratory screens all lab submissions from patients suspected of West Nile Virus infection for antibodies of similar viral diseases, including Eastern Equine Encephalitis. This process helps determine what type of mosquito-borne illness a person has, as all present similar symptoms.
Public health officials recommend that physicians, clinics or hospitals that utilize private diagnostic laboratories request screening of suspect patients for Eastern Equine Encephalitis in addition to West Nile virus, especially in the parishes currently experiencing the outbreak in horses.