By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

Officials with the Riverside County Animal Services are reporting a equine influenza outbreak that to date has killed at least three dozen burros.

Image/Wokandapix via pixabay

Most of the deaths are occurring in the Reche Canyon area, but about six have occurred in Moreno Valley Animal Services’ coverage area in the interface of the foothills along Pigeon Pass Road, Heacock Street (which become Reche Vista Drive) and Redlands Boulevard.

San Bernardino County officials said they have not had any reported cases.

County and state officials are monitoring the outbreak and urging horse owners to consult their veterinarians and get booster vaccines for previously vaccinated animals. Also, horse owners should ensure their animals are not exposed to sick burros by moving their animals away from fence lines in areas where the burros frequent.

Equine influenza virus  is specific to equids (horses, mules and donkeys) and does not affect other species of animals. Equine influenza is a highly contagious virus that spreads rapidly through groups of horses in aerosolized droplets dispersed by coughing or through fomite transmission. The majority of the clinical signs are respiratory and may also include fever, edema and enlarged lymph nodes. Clinical signs are more common, and more severe, in younger horses (ages 1 to 5) and may be more severe in donkeys and mules. Older horses usually have milder disease.

Although officials recognize that some people unlawfully feed the burros, all agencies are urging the public to avoid contact with the burros, especially anyone that own horses.

Humans do not contract the disease, but people can act as fomites and transmit the virus between horses, said Emily Nietrzeba, a Sacramento-based equine specialist veterinarian with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

“It’s important we emphasize to the public regarding the importance of preventing contact between sick burros and healthy horses and donkeys, and avoiding all shared waterers, feeders, and equipment, as well as limiting fenceline exposure to the greatest extent possible,” Dr. Nietrzeba said. “Horse owners are encouraged to discuss best disease prevention practices, including vaccination, with their own vets.”