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Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis confirmed
Equine owners encouraged to consult with veterinarian
AUSTIN -- Due to recent cases of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE) in Southern Mexico, horse owners and veterinarians are encouraged to be alert to any clinical signs of illness that could indicate equine encephalitis. Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis is a noncontagious viral infection of horses and other equids that can cause a severe and often fatal encephalitis/encephalomyelitis, which is defined as an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
According to an Aug. 19 press release, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued an import alert for four states in Mexico. Effective immediately, and until further notice, horses and other equids from the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, and Chiapas, or that have transited through these states are required to undergo a seven-day quarantine and observation for VEE in a vector-proof (double-screened) quarantine facility, rather than the standard three-day quarantine prior to entry into the United States.
The particular equine encephalitis virus being reported by Mexico is considered an endemic strain, which doesn’t normally cause disease in equids. The import alert issued by the USDA is a precautionary measure due to the one horse in the state of Tabasco that has died from the virus. The severe outbreak that occurred in Texas in 1971 was caused by a different, more virulent strain of the virus.
Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis is usually transmitted by mosquitoes, and infrequently by other bloodsucking insects.
People may also be infected by mosquitos, but horse-to-horse and horse-to-human transmission is uncommon. VEE is highly pathogenic in horses. It can also cause illness in humans.
VEE is a foreign animal disease, reportable to both the Texas Animal Health Commission and the Department of State Health Services due to the potential for human illness.
For more information, visit the Texas Animal Health Commission under “Equine health.”
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