Horses should be vaccinated to avoid contracting EEE

SE Mass

Horses grazing at the Palmer River Equestrian Center in Rehoboth, Mass.

REHOBOTH, Mass. (WPRI) — This summer will likely be remembered for the pesky mosquitoes.

In Rhode Island, the first human case of EEE was confirmed after the diagnosis of a West Warwick resident. Additionally, this week a horse in Westerly, R.I. contracted EEE.

In a press conference held at the Rhode Island Department of Health on Friday, reporters were told the mosquitoes will remain abundant until the first hard frost.

A “killing frost” typically occurs mid to late October, allowing nearly six more weeks of life for the mosquito population.

Equestrians are taking no risks when it comes to the health of their prized horses.

At Palmer River Equestrian Center in Rehoboth, they are stepping up and being proactive.

Owner Dawn Cook told Eyewitness News that typically, these animals only receive one vaccination during the spring.

Cook’s assistant Emily Dufort says all the horses have received a second vaccination – a booster shot – to prevent EEE.

Dufort says it was recommended by her veterinarian.

“They were seeing more cases of EEE up here because of the high amount of mosquitoes,” Dufort said.

Mike Healey with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said, “climate change is not an abstraction in Rhode Island.”

As for Dufort, she has seen what EEE does to a horse’s health. She says to watch out for the signs to ensure a sick horse is treated as soon as possible.

Eyewitness News spoke with the Rhode Island SPCA over the phone Saturday. Dr. E.J. Finocchio said he recommends all horses be vaccinated against EEE.

Finocchio said a horse can’t transmit the disease to any other horses or humans. Additionally, for those worrying about dogs and cats, Finocchio says it’s very rare for those animals to contract EEE.

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