The Boston Globe - 31.08.2019

(Joyce) #1

AUGUST 31, 2019 3

By Hanna Krueger
Calling all horse owners.
After seven horses that test-
ed positive for EEE were eutha-
nized in Massachusetts this
month, the MSPCA has
launched an emergency clinic
in the Merrimack Valley for
horses whose owners cannot af-
ford the vaccination.
The mosquito-borne Eastern
equine encephalitis virus hits

horses even harder than hu-
mans. However, unlike hu-
mans, horses can be vaccinated
against the virus. None of the
Massachusetts horses infected
this year were vaccinated, offi-
cials said.
The seven horses that died
were in Brookfield, Granby,
Holliston, Medfield, Mendon,
Methuen, and Uxbridge. Five of
those horses died in the past 10
days, officials said.

The MSPCA said it will send
a crew out in the valley to vacci-
nate horses that have either not
been vaccinated or were vacci-
nated more than six months
ago. To qualify, owners are
asked to complete an online
survey. A member of the MSP-
CA’s Equine Assistance Pro-
gram will then schedule the
vaccinations, which are expect-
ed to begin Tuesday.
A horse can still contract

EEE if it is vaccinated, although
the disease is usually less se-
vere, according to authorities.
The vaccine protects against
West Nile as well as EEE and
Western equine encephalitis,
and is considered both safe and
effective, the MSPCA said.
The state is now starting a
new, intense cycle of EEE activ-
ity that will probably persist for
two to three years, state officials
told the Globe earlier this week.

As of Friday, 376 mosquito sam-
ples have tested positive for the
virus. Four human cases of EEE
were confirmed in the state this
year, including one that led to a
Fairhaven woman’s death.
As of Thursday, 191 Massa-
chusetts communities had been
determined to be at least at
moderate risk of the rare but
deadly disease. Of that number,
28 communities are at critical
risk, the highest alert.

The “critical risk” distinc-
tion prompts the state to advise
those communities to consider
canceling or rescheduling out-
door gatherings, including or-
ganized sporting events, to
avoid peak mosquito hours.
For now, the horse vaccina-
tion program is limited to the
Merrimack Valley.

Hanna Krueger can be reached

EEE vaccination clinic planned following 7 horse deaths

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