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Three rare diseases detected among horses in three different Minnesota counties

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) —   Three rare diseases have been detected among horses in three different counties in Minnesota just as mosquitoes and flies are at their summertime peak.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health said Monday that a 14-year-old Belgian mare came down with Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Otter Tail County.  The horse was euthanized August 1 after she couldn’t rise on her own, had a limp tongue, and had uncontrolled leg movements.

EEE is a viral disease that causes inflammation of a horse’s brain and spinal cord.

Recent disease surveillance detected West Nile virus in a 25-year-old horse in Swift County.  It worsened quickly; the mare’s owners reported she became ill in the evening and could not rise the next morning.

Horses can be vaccinated against EEE (photo courtesy Michigan State University)

Both of these two diseases might have been spread by mosquitoes, according to experts with the Board of Animal Health, and both pose a risk to people as well as horses.

“Mid-July through early September is the highest risk time for EEE, WNV and oher mosquito-transmitted diseases in Minnesota,” said Dave Neitzel, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Dept. of Health.  “Minnesotans can protect themselves by wearing mosquito repellents and taking other precautions.”

Meantime, a veterinarian confirmed Equine Infectious Anemia in a horse in Pine County on Thursday, August 8.  The animal was immediately put down.  There is no cure for EIA so a horse with the disease could become a carrier for life without anyone knowing.  EIA it can be spread from animal to animal from fly bites.   It is a viral disease that can strike horses, donkeys and mules.  EIA does not pose any known threat to people.

Noel Sederstrom

Noel Sederstrom joined the KTTC-TV staff as News Director in February, 2008. He’s a native Minnesotan, having grown up on a farm near Litchfield, and also spending a lot of time on Lake Vermilion near Tower-Soudan, where his grandfather Gust Saari worked in the Soudan Underground Mine.

After studying journalism at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, Noel worked as a reporter, anchor, producer and Executive Producer at television stations in Duluth, Little Rock, Buffalo, Louisville and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Noel was the News Director at WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo for seven of his 18 years at the CBS affiliate before returning to Minnesota. He and his wife Cindy have two grown children and make their home in Rochester.

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