When you hear “silent but deadly,” your horse’s health may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But when it comes the virus equine encephalitis (also referred to as “sleeping sickness”), we want horses owners and stable owners to be aware that this virus goes symptomless for days and fatality rates between 50% and 90% in horses.
What is Equine Encephalitis?
Equine encephalitis is a zoonotic virus that affects horses and people by attacking the central nervous system. Mosquitoes play a vital role in the transfer of equine encephalitis between animals. The virus enters the bloodstream of its victims and gets to work ravaging the brain and spinal cord by causing severe inflammation. This ultimately renders the infected person or horse unable to move, eat, and breathe.
Many people that witness the death of a horse infected with equine encephalitis often describe it as “spontaneous” because the deterioration happens so rapidly.