EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — While the chances of cats and dogs contracting eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is very low, Rhode Island’s state veterinarian still has some precautions for pet owners.
At the Providence Dog Park, Eyewitness News spoke with pet owners while their dogs ran around chasing balls and ropes. They haven’t been overly concerned with the threat of mosquito-borne diseases.
“I haven’t. I think, coming to the dog park, I’ve heard people talking about it,” Kate Teichman of East Providence said.
“This year seems to be a particularly bad year. We’re seeing some spillover into species that we usually don’t see EEE in,” RI State Veterinarian Scott Marshall, DVM, explained.
At least three deer found in Rhode Island have been infected with the disease and a goat was found to have EEE in Massachusetts.
“Cats and dogs have historically been very rarely infected, but reports of infection in cats and dogs have happened,” Marshall added.
No canine or feline cases of EEE have been reported in Southern New England so far this year. Marshall still recommends pet owners take precautions.
Marshall said while there is a EEE vaccine for horses, there’s no vaccine available for dogs and cats, so people should take the same precautions with them as they would on themselves. If your pet is going outside between dusk and dawn, remember to use bug repellent on them, but also be careful about which repellent you use.
“Dogs are a lot more tolerant to the types of mosquito repellents you would commonly use, either DEET or pyrethrins. Cats can be very sensitive to synthetic pyrethroids,” Marshall said.
“Please consult with your veterinarian to ensure whatever product you’re putting on your product is safe,” he added.
On Tuesday, Rhode Island health officials announced the state’s second and third human cases of EEE this year.