Horse owners in the state are being advised make sure their animals are vaccinated now prior to the onset of summer, against mosquito-borne diseases, such as West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.
In a news release sent to 22News, John Labeaux, Commissioner of the the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, said that getting the vaccines at the right time of year can provide horses protection for the whole mosquito season.
According to the MDAR, annual vaccinations should be administered during this time of year to ensure that animals are protected prior to the peak arboviral season beginning in late July and to remain protective through the first hard frost.
Owners are also urged by the MDAR not to wait until positive cases are reported in the area, since it can take several weeks for an animal to be fully protected by a vaccine.
Meadow Crest Stable in Greenfield makes sure they provide their horses with vaccines every year.
“They can contract Lyme disease as well as the West Nile virus. Some horses will make it through it without showing effects and they will be fine with it but other times they won’t be so lucky,” said Patricia French at Meadow Crest Stable in Greenfield.
Horses and other equines infected by EEE and WNV develop neurological symptoms that can sometimes lead to death.
In addition to vaccinations, horse owners should also reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water in containers on, especially after heavy rain.
The MDAR also recommends that horse owners should consider keeping horses in indoor stalls during times of peak mosquito activity between dusk and dawn to reduced their risk of exposure to mosquitoes.
If a horse is suspected of contracting any mosquito-borne illness, owners are required to report it to the Department of Agriculture.