INDIANAPOLIS — The threat of Eastern Equine Encephalitis has become real as seven positive cases have been diagnosed in horses in Elkhart County.

Sandra Norman, the equine director for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, said that EEE is carried by mosquitoes, and it can affect horses and people.

Norman added that the disease can only be carried and transferred by mosquitoes. “Horses and people can’t transfer the disease to one another,” she said.

“This is a much more serious disease in horses with a high degree of fatality and most die if they get it,” Norman said.

Norman said horses that test positive for EEE typically haven’t been vaccinated, or if they have been vaccinated the vaccines probably weren’t up to date.

Norman said of the seven horses that tested positive for EEE this year, six of the horses have died, none of which had been vaccinated.

“One horse that is still alive had been vaccinated in the past, but missed a vaccine and will no longer be able to function as a show horse,” Norman said.

Norman said that if the horse does survive it will have severe neurological issues, which are complications of the disease.

Norman said she believes there have been several positive cases of EEE this year because there have been a lot of mosquitoes due to the large amounts of rain that provided good breeding grounds.

Norman said that until the state gets its first good freeze, mosquitoes still can carry and transmit the disease.

Ashley Langreck can be reached at 800-426-9438, ext. 192, or alangreck@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Langreck.

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