South Shore Equine Clinic & Diagnostic Center
Equine Veterinary Services South Shore Boston Massachusetts

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Bits & Pieces: September 2006

Information regarding EEE & West Nile vaccinations & prevention

Inside SSEC

EEE and West Nile

As most of you are aware, EEE and West Nile are quite prevalent this year.  Already, at least two horses in this area have died from EEE, and several humans have also become infected.  It is imperative that your horses are vaccinated properly for these diseases.  Some people  feel that it is a one in one million chance that their horse will become infected;  but these two cases bring to light that it can happen.  Don't let your horse be the next victim.

While the state has sprayed the most severely affected areas, it's not enough to protect every horse 100%.  Mosquitoes are still out there.  Repellents help, but are not a cure-all.  Proper vaccination is the best defense against both EEE and West Nile.  Spring and Fall are  equally important times to vaccinate.  If your horse has never had either vaccine, they will need an initial dose and a second dose (booster) three to four weeks later.

EEE and West Nile are mosquito-borne viral diseases.  They both  cause encephalitis, which means 'inflammation or swelling of the brain'.  Symptoms typically include fever, uncoordination, and lack of appetite.  Horses that become infected cannot transmit it to humans, or other horses.  Unfortunately, in most cases, they do not survive the disease.  Just like people, all ages are susceptible to  EEE and West Nile. Those that are very young, old, or compromised by another condition are more likely to be affected.

Ways to help keep mosquitoes at bay:

  • Remove all standing, stagnant water.  Tip over and clean water buckets at least twice a week.
  • Keep horses in during peak mosquito hours - dawn and dusk.
  • Keep lights off as much as possible, so as not to attract mosquitoes.
  • Remove any birds kept near the barn, including chickens.  Birds help to spread the disease.
  • Any and all dead birds should be reported to your local health department.

By following these guidelines, you should see a decrease in mosquito activity around your barn.  And with the vaccinations, even when you see them, you will know that your horse has been protected. 

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Inside SSEC

Things have been pretty busy at the hospital.  Referrals from other practitioners, as well as our own cases have kept the stalls full, and the staff busy.  Our surgery caseload has included arthroscopic surgeries, laser surgeries, soft palate resections, splint bone removals, castrations, cryptorchid castrations, aural dentigerous cyst removals, tumor removals, and digital neurectomies.  As many of you know, we do not perform colic surgery (we refer them to Tufts), but are more than willing to see your colicky horses at the farm or bring them in for intravenous (IV) fluids and work-ups.  Other diagnostics perfromed at SSEC include airway endoscopy, gastroscopy (stomach ulcers), digital x-rays, ultrasounds of legs, chests, and abdomens, and Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI).  The use of MRI has helped us (as well as the referring veterinarians) to accurately diagnose and set up treatment plans for frustrating lameness cases, which in the past would go undetected or undiagnosed. 

MRI image showing navicular bone cyst which was not visible on x-rays

MRI image showing navicular bone cyst which was not visible on x-rays

MRI image showing navicular bone cyst which was not visible on x-rays


Stop in for your personal tour, or ask for one if you happen to bring your horse to us.  Staff members you may see include: Sarah, business manager; Nancy, receptionist; Amanda, veterinary assistant; Wayne, facilities supervisor; or Ann, bookkeeper.  You may also see veterinary students from any number of schools helping out at times, as we had 3 students this past summer (Karyn from Tufts, Katherine from St. George's, and Cara from Ross University). 

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