EEE vaccine available for horses, but not humans

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SWANTON, (WTVG) - Unlike humans, there is a vaccine on the market to protect horses from EEE. The U.S. military reportedly developed a vaccine for people in the 1980s, but it is not commercially available. The horse vaccine has been available for years. A local vet we spoke with has been getting a lot of questions about it in recent weeks.

Dr. Jill Dentel works at Countryside Animal Clinic in Wauseon. We caught up with her at a Swanton farm Friday while she was giving EEE booster shots to a number of horses.

While the mosquito-borne virus is rare in humans, it is a lot more common in unvaccinated horses. That's because horses are outside a lot more than people, and exposed to a lot more mosquitoes.

Dr. Dentel says many people make sure their horses are given the EEE shot every spring. But with more and more cases being reported in our part of the country, Dr. Dentel says she's gotten a lot of calls from people who want to make sure they've done all they can to protect their horses.

The symptoms begin days after the horse is bitten, and the onset of clinical signs is abrupt. Dr. Dentel says the vast majority of horses that contract the disease end up dying or being euthanized because a 1,000-1,200 pound animal that can't stand or control it's body it becomes a dangerous situation.

In addition to the vaccine, vets recommend limiting your horse's exposure to mosquitoes by using repellent and removing standing water.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture reports three confirmed cases of EEE in horses since August. There have been more than 20 cases confirmed in Michigan animals this year.