The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is announcing that a horse from Sanbornton has been identified with the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection. This is the second finding of EEE in a horse this year, though a mule was identified with EEE in September. Eighteen mosquito batches have also tested positive for EEE.

Beautiful horses
Public domain image/Dusan Bicanski

The arboviral risk level for the town of Sanbornton will increase from low to high. The surrounding towns of Laconia, Belmont, and Tilton will increase from low to moderate, and the towns of New Hampton, Franklin, Hill, and Meredith will increase from no data/baseline to moderate risk.

EEE is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitos. It is important that people continue to take precautions against mosquito bites, including wearing an effective repellent, long pants and sleeves, ensuring screens are in good repair and removing standing water from your property to prevent mosquitoes from breeding, until there has been a killing frost statewide.

“This is a sad reminder that we are not out of the woods yet as far as mosquito diseases while the weather continues to stay moderate,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “Leaf season is a great time to get outside but we urge residents and visitors to use an effective repellent when doing so.”

Any horse that resides in or travels to New Hampshire during mosquito season is at risk of becoming infected with EEE or West Nile Virus (WNV). Because of this risk, it is recommended that horse owners consult with their veterinarians to discuss appropriate vaccination schedules based on their risk factors.

EEE is a more serious disease in people than WNV and carries a high mortality rate for those who contract the serious encephalitis form of the illness. Symptoms of EEE may include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, and sore throat. There is no treatment for the disease, which can in some cases lead to seizures and coma. Symptoms usually occur 4 to 10 days after being bitten. If you or someone you know is experiencing flu-like symptoms, including fever and headache, contact your local medical provider.