Mosquito born illnesses threaten health of horses

Mosquito born illnesses threaten health of horses
But one simple vaccine may protect horses. (Source: WALB)
But one simple vaccine may protect horses. (Source: WALB)
Veterinarian Frank Spelts (Source: WALB)
Veterinarian Frank Spelts (Source: WALB)
Norma Karst (Source: WALB)
Norma Karst (Source: WALB)

LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - It's mosquito season, and that means more cases of mosquito-borne illnesses and people, as well as animals, are at risk.

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus have been a problem for years, but one simple vaccine may protect horses.

Star K Equestrian Center is home to more than 50 horses.

All of them are quite healthy.

That's because at least twice a year, Veterinarian Frank Spelts vaccinates them for EEE and West Nile.

"We do our horses twice a year, sometimes even three times a year," said Norma Karst with the Star K Equestrian Center.

Karst takes precautions, but some horse owners don't.

"Every year we see it and probably the veterinarians before me have seen it," explained Spelts.

If your horse has a staggered gate and is progressively getting worse over a couple of days, it could have EEE or West Nile. If a horse gets EEE there is a 98 percent chance it will die.  The chances are 50-50 with West Nile.

"You need to vaccinate your babies at three months of age, get a booster shot in, for those young horses they need a booster shot every six months," said Spelts. "At least yearly, even twice a year if you have a bad mosquito problem."

Doctor Spelts said that some people don't get their animals vaccinated because they think horses get fussy or young horses don't need them, but that's not true.

"No. Babies need to get protected at at least three months of age," said Spelts.

One visit and two shots can save a horse's life for as little as $35.

Doctor Spelts said that the vaccine is highly successful, but you should also decrease the amount of mosquitoes.

That's advice Karst follows.

"We keep our horses sprayed and keep standing water down and that sort of thing so we don't have that mosquito problem," explained Karst.

Because her horses are some of her best friends.

"They give you back so much more than you take from them," said Karst.

Every year, there are also a handful of EEE cases in people.

That's why it's especially important to take care of mosquito problems in your yard this summer.

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