What are Arboviral Encephalomyelitis?
Symptoms and severity of arboviral encephalomyelitis vary depending on the virus and area your horse lives in. Your horse may show no signs at all of infection having developed antibodies to it and self-healed, while other horses may suffer fevers, weakness and worse. Most arboviruses use a bird or rodent to mosquito cycle that spreads the virus. Tickborne encephalomyelitis can also spread this viral infection. A horse displaying signs of this condition will need immediate veterinary care; though there is a high rate of morbidity with arboviral encephalomyelitis, some horses can survive with timely supportive care.
There is a vaccination available for your horse with prevention being the easiest way to handle this virile and often severe virus infection.
Arboviral encephalomyelitis is a viral disorder that is usually spread by mosquitoes or blood sucking insects that can attack the nervous system of your horse.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Arboviral Encephalomyelitis in Horses
- Changes to your horse’s vision
- Paralysis of the facial nerve
- Sensitivity to loud noises
- Your horse may press its head into fences, trees or walls
- Abnormal behaviour
- Seizures may occur
- Muzzle twitches
- Uncoordinated movement
- West Nile encephalomyelitis (North America, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa)
- Eastern equine encephalitis which is known as EEE (Caribbean islands, Eastern US States and Eastern Canada)
- Western equine encephalitis, called WEE (Western Canada, Western US states, Mexico and South America)
- Venezuelan equine encephalitis (Mexico and South and Central America)
Causes of Arboviral Encephalomyelitis in Horses
The main culprit is the mosquito who is an avid breeder and is prolific in humid climates and spread the virus by biting birds, bats, people and animals. One contaminated source starts a whole new strain of virus.
- Bird to mosquito, rodent cycle of spreading the virus
- Opossums and bats also act as a spreading vector
- The prime cause is from active mosquitoes
- Ticks and other blood feeding insects especially in warmer climates
- Viral infections from the above
Diagnosis of Arboviral Encephalomyelitis in Horses
If your horse is exhibiting the signs of the illness as discussed above, call your veterinarian to come and examine him. An external assessment of the general health condition of your horse will be carried out and blood tests to detect blood antibodies can support the diagnosis. Blood tests can also indicate how the system of your horse is reacting to the virus. Vaccines are available and your veterinarian can recommend these for your horse once his condition has improved.
Treatment of Arboviral Encephalomyelitis in Horses
Prevention is the best course of action as there is no cure for this condition. There are vaccinations for your horse that will help prevent infection. Usually, your veterinarian will give three vaccinations all at once and they will cover EEE, WEE, and tetanus. In addition, because West Nile virus is a leading cause of this condition, vaccination as a preventative is also required.
The viral strain and the health of your horse that will determine the outcome of this virus. Your horse may recover without any permanent neurological damage but there is a high mortality rate with this disorder. There is no specific treatment developed yet, but intravenous fluids may help if your horse is unable to drink. Your veterinarian specialist may supply anticonvulsants if necessary or use an anti-inflammatory, but good nursing care is essential. It takes from several days to several weeks for a recovery to occur, and it depends on the severity of the virus as to what permanent damage has been done.
Recovery of Arboviral Encephalomyelitis in Horses
Good nursing is essential to aid recovery, and it may take from a few days to a few weeks for your horse to get over this attack. Prevention is recommended as are booster shots for those humid steamy seasons where blood seeking insects are about. Rest and recovery, comfort with a soft floor and bed, and the advice of your animal specialist is imperative. The outlook depends on the virus strain your horse has been affected with. Use insect repellents and fly sheet covers on your horse and avoid turning your horse out at dawn and dusk when the mosquitos are rife. Clear up any stagnant water lying around your paddocks such as containers and birdbaths as they are an ideal breeding place for mosquitos. Avoid lights inside the stables at night and invest in special lights that attract and kill flying pests.