Skip to content

Health Advisory Issued for Tennessee Horse Owners



An advisory by the state veterinarian and other animal health care officials has been issued to horse owners regarding the possible re-emergence of eastern equine encephalitis. The disease is transmitted, much like the West Nile virus, through mosquitoes.

“Horse owners should be aware of symptoms of viral encephalitis and consult their local veterinarian should their horse develop any signs associated with this group of diseases,” said state veterinarian Ron Wilson.

The first case in Tennessee was confirmed some time last week in Anderson County. Cases have also been reported in the nearby states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Health officials are also concerned about other mosquito-borne diseases because of the expected increase in the number of West Nile cases during the summer months.

Both equine encephalitis and West Nile virus are transmitted when a mosquito feeds on an infected bird and then passes it on to horses.

Even though eastern equine encephalitis occurs sporadically in Tennessee, the mortality rate in horses is high, according to Wilson. He also believes the spread of West Nile has increased awareness of other nervous system diseases, including eastern equine encephalitis.

It is extremely important for horse owners to know and understand the symptoms for both West Nile and eastern equine encephalitis. Symptoms for both diseases include decreased alertness, blindness or impaired vision, aimless wandering or circling, head pressing, inability to swallow and convulsions.

“Definitive diagnosis is important in tracking the spread of viral infections,” Wilson said. “It requires a commitment on the part of the horse owners working with their local veterinarian and verifying test results through laboratory analysis.”

Vaccines protecting against encephalitis and western equine encephalitis, a variant of the disease, are currently available. An approved West Nile vaccine is also available. Wilson urges horse owners to review their horse’s immunization records.

The State Department of Agriculture’s Kord Animal Laboratory located in Nashville provides diagnostic services for livestock owners and private veterinarians. For more information, please call the state veterinarian’s office at 615-837-5120.

More Stories

  • Equine Obituary - Gen’s Armed & Dangerous

    The Report has recently learned of the passing of Gen’s Armed and Dangerous. The beautiful stallion was the 1994 Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion. Read More
  • Ohio Valley adds class

    Ohio Valley Walking Horse Association show, scheduled for June 23 in Stanford, Kentucky, has added a 4 and Under Trail Pleasure to their show.  Read More
  • Walking For Hope Show updates

    The Walking For Hope show, scheduled for June 16, has selected Chris Zahnd to judge this year’s event. Originally scheduled to start at 4:00, the show will start at 5:00 pm. Read More
  • WHOA Versatility revises class schedule

    The Walking Horse Owners Association has added 5 classes to its June 16 show scheduled at Tennessee Tech, Hyder-Burk Facility in Cookeville, TN. The show starts at 10 am and is a casual dress show (boots, long pants, shirts with a collar) and "Youth 11 and Under" are required to wear a safety helmet. Read More
  • Putnam Co. Fair selects judge

    The Putnam County Fair and Upper Cumberland Walking Horse Association are pleased to announce that Newton Parks of Murfreesboro, Tennessee will judge this year’s event... Read More
  • Wartrace selects judge

    The 112th Anniversary Wartrace Horse Show has selected John Fikes of Hamilton, Alabama to judge this year's event and has released their class schedule... Read More
  • Walking For The Children selects judge

    The Walking For The Children Show, scheduled for July 26, has selected Aaron Self of Murfreesboro, Tennessee to mark the cards for this year's event. Read More
  • WHAA Summer Classic selects Cotten

    The WHAA Summer Classic, scheduled for June 16, has selected Joe Cotten to mark the cards for this years event... Read More
  • Obituary - Bill Carmichael

    Walking horse trainer, William D. "Bill" Carmichael, 59, passed away suddenly on Wednesday morning. He was born on October 13, 1958 to Audria Carmichael and the late William Carmichael. He married his adoring wife Cindy Conyers Carmichael and together they had two wonderful children... Read More
  • BPWHA Broadhead show rescheduled

    The Bluegrass Pleasure & Walking Horse Show, originally scheduled for May 19, has been rescheduled for October 14 at 1:00 pm.  Read More