More cases of dangerous EEE in horses confirmed in the state

More cases of the dangerous disease, Eastern equine encephalitis, have been found in South Carolina. Horse owners should check with their veterinarian if they have not vaccinated their animals.

Several additional cases of Eastern equine encephalitis have been confirmed in horses in South Carolina.

The state veterinarian’s office received laboratory confirmation of three new cases of EEE as of Tuesday.

The first was a Tennessee Walking Horse in Dorchester County, the second was a 13-year-old pony in Horry County and the third was a 2-year-old Quarter Horse in Kershaw County. None of the horses survived.

These are the first cases in Dorchester and Kershaw counties and the third case in Horry County. South Carolina now has eight confirmed cases statewide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, EEE is a rare disease that is caused by a virus spread by infected mosquitoes. The EEE virus is one of a group of mosquito-transmitted viruses that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). The disease is rarely transmitted to humans.

In horses, EEE affects the central nervous system. Signs of EEE include moderate to high fever, depression, lack of appetite, facial paralysis, difficulty swallowing, behavioral changes like aggression or drowsiness, gait abnormalities or severe central nervous system signs, such as head-pressing, circling, blindness and seizures.

Death usually occurs two to three days after onset of clinical signs with fatality rates reaching 75 percent to 80 percent among horses.

Vaccinations are highly effective deterrents and can be administered at any time. Horse owners should consult their veterinarians.

The state totals are:

3 Horry County

2 Colleton County

1 Marion County

1 Dorchester County

1 Kershaw County