The resurgence of Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE), a viral disease primarily affecting horses, has put Argentina on high alert. Transmitted by mosquitoes infected by carrier birds, the disease can also affect humans, although such cases are less common. EEE can cause severe neurological symptoms, and the mortality rate in horses can be high. The outbreak in Argentina may be linked to factors such as climatic conditions favoring mosquito breeding and the movement of migratory birds. Disease prevention focuses on mosquito control and horse vaccination.
Argentina's National Service for Health and Agri-Food Quality (Senasa) confirmed the presence of EEE. In response, the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) initiated a preventive surveillance plan, intensifying vigilance on horses moving from abroad for competition or reproduction, as well as on the domestic equine population. The SAG has urged horse owners to be vigilant and report any unusual behaviors, such as coordination disorders, blindness, prostration, or convulsions, in their horses.
Transmission and Symptoms
EEE is a viral disease transmitted to horses and humans through mosquito bites. The disease first passes from birds to mosquitoes, which can then infect mammals. The incubation period depends on the type of EEE contracted. Eastern and Western EEE have an incubation period of five to 14 days. Neurological symptoms appear within five days of infection.
Understanding the Threat
The provinces of Corrientes and Santa Fe in Argentina have detected EEE outbreaks. The disease, caused by a virus, has a high fatality rate in horses. The infection can also affect humans through mosquito bites. Health measures include prohibiting the movement of horses from Corrientes and Santa Fe to the rest of the country and requiring vaccination before the entry of animals at events involving horses. However, no vaccine is currently available for humans.
Response and Prevention
Tecnovax, a leading pharmaceutical company, has initiated a special production campaign to meet the demand for EEE vaccines, a disease that hasn't been seen in Argentina for over 35 years. The Argentine government has also announced containment and control measures in response to EEE outbreaks in two provinces and suspected cases in others. These measures include coordinating with veterinary product chambers and producing laboratories to generate the highest possible availability of vaccines in the shortest possible time.