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Horse owners warned after fatal virus confirmed in Nova Scotia

Horse owners may want to protect animals from mosquitoes following the confirmation of a deadly virus in the province.

Horse owners may want to protect animals from mosquitoes following the confirmation of a deadly virus in the province.

A case of eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, has been found in a horse on the South Shore near Bridgewater.

The horse had to be euthanized after it displayed symptoms of odd behaviour, staggered walking and tremors. Some symptoms in horses have also been reported as pain similar to colic. A second horse in the area was also put down, however officials have yet to receive test results from a lab in Ontario to confirm the virus.

“We still consider it a concern,” said Rob Kerr, program veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture, who said EEE affects the neurological system of a horse and almost always produces fatal results.

Mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds and rodents spread the disease to horses. It is not spread by contact with other horses.

Kerr said it is unknown whether the virus is limited to parts of mainland Nova Scotia or if it is considered more widespread.

A vaccine is available for horses but it takes three weeks after the second inoculation for horses to build an immunity to the disease. With mosquito season almost nearing a close, vaccinations may not be useful during this year’s fly season, Kerr said.

Bug repellents made specifically for horses, along with bug proof blankets and hoods can also offer some protection.

 
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