Shackleford Horse Dies From Eastern Equine Encephalitis

A wild horse from the Shackleford Banks has died and authorities say the mare tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

The four year old was reported down on July 22nd and was still alive when National Park Service law enforcement found her. She died before additional help could arrive.

Cape Lookout says this is the first documented case of EEE among the herd of 107 horses, which the Park Service has been managing since the mid 1980's.

A necropsy done in Raleigh says the horse most likely died from heavy internal parasites along with the fact it was fighting the encephalitis.

Park Superintendent Pat Kinney says they manage the horses as wildlife and it is not practical for them to vaccinate them against EEE.

EEE is transmitted by mosquitoes. It attacks the central nervous system, causing inflammation of the brain and can be fatal to animals and humans.

Health officials say wild birds are reservoirs for the virus. Mosquitoes bite the birds and can then transmit the virus to humans and animals. People can only get EEE from a mosquito that has bitten an infected bird.

The horses live wild on Shackleford Banks and are believed to descend from Spanish horses brought here 400 years ago.

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