Maine CDC has just announced (August, 2013) that the virus causing Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been detected from mosquitoes trapped near Alfred, Maine, which is south of Portland. Mosquito-trapping is a monitoring method to see whether mosquitoes are carrying viruses that can cause disease (such as EEE or West Nile encephalitis; WNV) in people and animals, if bitten by infected mosquitoes. It’s not unexpected to see EEE in mosquitoes this time of year, but it’s a good indication for using even better protection against mosquito bites. As well, be sure to check your horses’ vaccination status; horses are very sensitive to EEE and WNV, but these diseases are easily prevented with a good vaccination schedule. Check with your vet to be sure your horses’ vaccines are current.
Posts Tagged ‘West Nile Virus’
It’s been a difficult year for much of the country in regards to mosquito-borne disease, but Maine seems to have done relatively well, according to the most recent CDC update. Most mosquito activity is over for the year. The Maine 2012 season passed with no human cases, and relatively little animal disease due to EEE and WNV — probably thanks to many factors, including vaccination of horses and mosquito control for humans, pets, and livestock. Planning for mosquito control for next year is a good idea, and keeping equine vaccinations current is a big part of lessening the impact of EEE and WNV in Maine.
For more information, see “2012 US Arboviral Activity Update” (listed under Weekly reports) at westnile.ca.gov.
The NickerNews.net website has quoted University of Maine Cooperative Extension veterinarian Anne Lichtenwalner in a report on mosquito-borne West Nile Virus, which can be fatal to horses, human and other animals. The article links to an Extension question and answer interview with Lichtenwalner, director of the UMaine Animal Health Laboratory, and her video about precautions horse owners can take.
Channel 2 (WLBZ) interviewed University of Maine Cooperative Extension veterinarian Anne Lichtenwalner and UMaine Extension pest management specialist Jim Dill for a report about West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), which are spread by mosquitoes. Lichtenwalner, director of the UMaine Animal Health Laboratory, discussed ways to protect horses from EEE. Dill said EEE has been reported in Massachusetts and mosquitoes in New Hampshire have tested positive for WNV, and that Maine residents should reduce wet breeding grounds for mosquitoes as a precaution. The Kennebec Journal also interviewed Lichtenwalner for a report about the mosquito-borne diseases.
Anne Lichtenwalner, DVM, PhD, University of Maine Extension
Question: What are the risks of WNV to humans, horses and pets in Maine this year?
Answer: WNV is a disease that can be transmitted by some (but not all) species of mosquitoes here in the Northeast. Routine testing of mosquito “pools” has revealed WNV in Maine mosquitoes this summer. Summer weather always brings more mosquitoes, and thus more risk. It’s time to review the steps for preventing disease due to WNV.
Question: How can I find out where this disease is showing up?
Answer: If you would like to see an up-to-date review of where the risks are, go to the CDC site (www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm) and look at the maps in the middle of the page. You’ll get info on where there have been mosquitoes detected with the virus (this is important because they are the primary means of spreading WNV), but also where there have been human cases. You can find out how many total cases have been reported, versus the number of deaths.
Question: With more WNV around in general, what can I do to avoid getting it?
Answer: The best prevention is to avoid mosquitoes: reduce the amount of stagnant water in which they breed, have effective screens on windows, avoid being outdoors (especially standing still) at dawn and dusk, wear protective clothing and consider using mosquito repellants if you are outside.
Question: With more WNV around in general, what can I do to protect my animals?
Answer: The same steps, in general, will help protect animals: reduce the amount of stagnant water on your premises, have screened-in shelters or fly masks/sheets for your animals (especially if they are out during dawn and dusk) and consider using mosquito repellants if other methods don’t work or aren’t practical. An extra step is critical to protect horses: vaccinate. Vaccinations are available, and you should check with your vet about whether and when to vaccinate. Remember, any “first” vaccination needs a booster (repeat) at about a month following the first one; after that, every 6 to 12 months another booster may be advisable. Check with your vet about recommendations in your area.
Question: What about dogs and cats — don’t they get WNV, too?
Answer: Experimentally, it’s been shown that if cats eat WNV-infected mice, they can become infected: but they don’t show illness. As well, an experiment with both dogs and cats showed that inoculating them with WNV resulted in infection, but not signs of illness. Studies of large numbers of dogs and cats in China showed very few with antibodies to WNV, which also supported that our pets can be infected, but probably are resistant to getting sick due to WNV. While it’s a good idea to avoid infection for our pets, the biggest danger of WNV appears to be to humans, horses and birds.
Question: What about my chickens and pet birds?
Answer: The most sensitive birds to WNV seem to be wild birds of several species, including crows and jays. Chickens appear to be resistant, although WNV has been created experimentally in chickens, geese and turkeys. For pet birds (such as psittacine birds), screens are the best protection against mosquitoes, as many bird species are highly sensitive to bug repellants. If you have pet birds, it’s a good idea to consult your vet about avoiding WNV.