Every evening I go out and water my flowers and come back in with several new mosquito bites. If the mosquitoes are feasting on me, chances are they are having a field day on your horses as well. As horse owners, it’s imperative to help protect your horses against mosquito borne diseases such as West Nile, eastern equine encephalomyelitis and western equine encephalomyelitis.
According to the U.S Geological Survey, in 2011, there were 115 equine cases of West Nile reported in 29 states from the north, south, east and west regions of the United States1. Also reported were 65 cases of eastern equine encephalomyelitis and one case of western equine encephalomyelitis1. In 2012, there have been two cases of West Nile reported, in Pennsylvania and Texas, however the season is still young1. Also there have been 18 cases of eastern equine encephalomyelitis reported1. Fortunately, due to annual horse vaccinations, the number of West Nile cases has decreased over the last decade, but the risk for this deadly disease is still there. Widespread vaccination for West Nile began in 2002 with Pfizer Animal Health’s WEST NILE-INNOVATOR® vaccine.
“It’s very important that all horses are properly vaccinated at least annually by a veterinarian with the core vaccines, West Nile, Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, tetanus,” says Rocky Bigbie DVM, MS, Area Veterinarian for Pfizer Animal Health. “Every year, we continue to see mosquito-borne diseases in areas across the country. At this point all horses should have received their spring shots, however, if they haven’t you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.”
Pfizer Animal Health offers a trusted line of vaccines, including WEST NILE-INNOVATOR® to help protect against West Nile virus. In addition, the Mosquito Shot™ (WEST NILE-INNOVATOR® + EWT) helps protect against eastern and western equine encephalomyelitis, West Nile and tetanus in a single vaccine. For more information on Pfizer Animal Health vaccines, visit www.pfizerah.com.
In addition to vaccination, there are steps you can take to help decrease mosquito populations.
Mosquitoes which breed in temporary pools, ditches, swamps, and other bodies of water are difficult to control at an individual stable, and are generally best controlled by organized mosquito control programs2. Mosquitoes that prefer to breed in small, temporary pools of water and containers, however, can be reduced around the stable2. They are quick to find and use any water-holding location, including puddles, tires, buckets, water troughs, and trash such as old soda cans. The best method for control of these mosquitoes is to reduce the number of places they can use to breed by controlling aquatic habitats in and around the stable.
· Keep water-holding containers to a minimum.
· Dump out, put away, or drill drainage holes in anything that can hold water which isn't needed for horse-keeping (including potted plants).
· Water buckets and troughs should be dumped, cleaned and refilled regularly - at least every 3 days.
· Stable horses during dusk and dawn, peak mosquito feeding periods.
· Keep gutters cleaned and free of debris and leaves.
· Keep grass cut short and shrubbery well trimmed around the house and stable, so adult mosquitoes will not hide there.
· Contact your local mosquito control district and follow their recommendations.
For more information on mosquito control, visit http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/mosquitoes/
If you suspect your horse has West Nile or another mosquito borne disease, contact your veterinarian right away. Vaccination is the best way to help protect your horse, but there are also other small ways to help them as well with protective clothing such as fly masks and sheets and insect repellents.
Many of you are well into your show season, collecting points for year end awards and a chance to ride in the Pfizer Animal Health $1 Million Grand Prix. Don’t let mosquitoes interfere with the success of your season.
1. West Nile Virus Veterinary 2011. USGS Disease Maps. Last Updated January 12, 2012. Available at: http://diseasemaps.usgs.gov/wnv_us_veterinary.html. Accessed on June 15, 2012.
2. Cynthia C. Lord and C. Roxanne Rutledge Connelly. Protecting Florida Horses from Mosquitoes. Univeristy of Florida IFAS Extension. 2012. Available at: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in181. Accessed on June 17, 2012.