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Equine Encephalitis

EEE, WEE

Overview


Equine encephalitis (EE) is an acute, highly fatal contagious disease that presents as two forms--eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and western equine encephalitis (WEE). The virus can infect birds, mammals (especially horses), and people. Both forms of the disease result in similar clinical signs, such as loss of appetite, paralysis, and staggering. Birds that survive the disease often recover blind or paralyzed.

Transmission
EE virus is transmitted primarily by infected mosquitoes. Birds (most significantly pheasants) act as a reservoir of the virus.

Clinical Signs

Twisted head and neck
Loss of appetite
Staggering
Paralysis
Depression
Blindness
Circling
Incoordination
Tremors

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • ELISA
  • Virus isolation - from the brain of affected birds that die.
  • Hemagglutination inhibition (HI) - Can be used to test for serum antibody titers for EEE, WEE, and VEE exposure.

Treatment

Supportive care: Isolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.

Prevention

  • Minimize mosquito populations near your flock
  • It is possible to immunize birds, especially pheasants, with the vaccine prepared for horses. The recommended dose is one-tenth of a horse dose per bird.

Prognosis

There is a high mortality rate associated with EE.

Scientific References

Good Overviews

Age Range

Newly hatched chicks are highly susceptible to EE virus.

Risk Factors

  • High populations of mosquitoes
  • Unseasonably heavy rainfall

Seasonality

WinterSpringSummerAutumn