RALEIGH, N.C. -- A four-year-old quarter horse stallion in Richmond County was euthanized after contracting the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis in North Carolina this year.

EEE is a mosquito-borne disease that is preventable in horses by vaccination.

EEE causes swelling of the brain and spinal cord and is usually fatal. Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death.

Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take 3-10 days for signs of EEE to appear.

The vaccinations initially require two shots, 30 days apart, for horses, mules and donkeys that have no prior vaccination history.

State Veterinarian Doug Meckes recommends a booster shot every six months in NC because of the prolonged mosquito season.

Mosquitoes can breed in any puddle that lasts for more than four days, so be sure to remove any standing water that you see around your animals. Keep horses in stalls at night, use insect screens and fans, and turn off lights after dusk to help reduce their exposure to mosquitoes.

People, horses, and birds can become infected from a bite by a mosquito carrying the disease, but there is no evidence that horses can transmit the viruses to other horses, birds, or people through direct contact.

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