As Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, poses a threat across the region, the MSPCA at Nevins Farm in Methuen is offering vaccinations for horses.

MSPCA officials said the announcement of their emergency vaccination clinic is a response to seven horses and four people across Massachusetts testing positive for the virus this year.

The seven horses included one that died in Methuen this week. The other horses and the four people infected with the virus were not from the Merrimack Valley, officials said.

At any given time, there are dozens of horses awaiting adoption at the MSPCA at Nevins Farm. Officials say all adoptable horses there are vaccinated upon intake, so they are protected against the virus.

To vaccinate against the EEE virus, the MSPCA will send its equine and farm animal program team, along with a veterinarian, to treat horses that have either not been vaccinated or were vaccinated more than six months ago, in which case a booster will be administered.

To qualify, horse owners are asked to complete a short online survey. A member of the MSPCA’s Equine Assistance Program will then be in touch with owners to schedule the vaccinations, which are expected to begin Tuesday, Sept. 3, and continue into the following week.

The MSPCA is asking all other horse owners to consult immediately with their veterinarians to determine when and how to vaccinate their horses.

The EEE vaccine is considered extremely safe, MSPCA officials say, with a low rate of reaction — in only three to four of 10,000 horses vaccinated — and a high rate of success.

The program is limited to the Merrimack Valley for now, officials say, but the MSPCA will look to expand its services to horse owners outside the Valley based on need and available resources.


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