Deadly Horse Virus Hits Tennessee


With unseasonably warm weather persisting well into the fall, mosquito-borne illnesses remain a serious health threat for horses in Tennessee.

A horse in Dyer County and a horse in Gibson County both recently tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). A horse in Chester County has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

Sick horses cannot directly infect people with WNV or EEE. Mosquitoes are responsible for transmission and the resulting viruses can be fatal. Although there is no vaccine for people, the WNV and EEE vaccines for equines are particularly effective to protect horses against infection.

“We typically think of mosquitoes as a summer-time pest,” state veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher said. “However, the record heat this fall has allowed mosquitoes to endure. It’s critical that livestock are current on annual vaccinations for year-round protection.”

In addition to vaccinating livestock, eliminate standing water sources where mosquitoes prefer to breed. When outside, wear long sleeves and pants and apply insect repellent to safeguard against mosquito bites. The state veterinarian is responsible for monitoring for and preventing the spread of animal disease, as well as promoting animal health in Tennessee. The office works with private veterinarians, animal pathologists and disease diagnostic laboratories to identify diseases and determine the cause of animal deaths.