- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
- Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
Media Contact for State Agriculture Officials Remind Horse Owners to Vaccinate Against Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Craig Gilvarg, Press Secretary
Boston — The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is reminding horse owners to vaccinate their horses against the mosquito-borne viral diseases Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV). Annual vaccinations should be given now to provide protection to animals prior to peak mosquito season which begins in late July, and to remain protective through the first hard frost.
“Mosquito-borne diseases such as EEE and West Nile Virus are a serious threat to the health of horses in Massachusetts, as infection can lead to death,” said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux. “We ask all horse owners to heed this call and get their animals vaccinated, as the timely use of vaccines ensures a safe and healthy equine population across the Commonwealth.”
In 2019 there were eight equine deaths in Massachusetts, all in unvaccinated horses. Other species such as pheasants, emus, llamas, and alpacas can also be affected by mosquito-borne disease, especially EEE. Although available vaccines are only licensed for use in horses, owners should consult with their veterinarian for recommendations regarding other animals.
Containers such as buckets, tires, wading pools and water troughs can serve as mosquito breeding sites and water should be dumped or changed at least every three days. People can protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases by using mosquito repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants and avoiding outdoor activities between dusk and dawn during the highest risk periods.
If an animal is suspected of having EEE or WNV, owners should call their veterinarian immediately. Positive and suspect cases are required to be reported to the Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795. Animal testing is available through the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.
On April 16, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker filed legislation to help the Commonwealth more effectively combat diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, including arboviruses like EEE and WNV, by authorizing a coordinated, proactive, statewide approach to mosquito control activities. The legislation, An Act to Mitigate Arbovirus in the Commonwealth, would empower the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board to engage in mosquito control activities across the Commonwealth, including in areas where there is no legislative authority to take action today, should DPH determine that an elevated risk of mosquito-borne diseases exists.