REYNOLDSBURG — The Ohio Department of Agriculture is urging horse owners to contact their veterinarians after the state confirmed a case of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in a horse in Ashtabula County.

“This is a serious disease and the most effective way to prevent your horses from getting EEE is to have the animals vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian,” state veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey said Thursday in a prepared statement. “It is spread through mosquitoes and can also affect people, so taking steps to manage the mosquito population, such as eliminating standing water, will also help prevent EEE and other vector-borne viruses, like West Nile virus.”

Suspected cases should be reported to a veterinarian as soon as possible, the state said.

The virus attacks the animal’s central nervous system, with the onset being abrupt and usually fatal. Symptoms include unsteadiness, erratic behavior, a marked loss of coordination and seizures.

Horses are susceptible but the virus also can cause serious illness in people as well as other animals such as poultry and deer, the state said.

The disease is rare in humans. There are no confirmed human cases now in Ohio, the state said.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is working with the Ohio Department of Health and local health officials to monitor the outbreak.