Owner: Horse that died of EEE lived and died in Connecticut, not Granby 

Staff Writer
Published: 9/10/2019 7:33:12 PM

GRANBY — A horse previously believed to have contracted Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Granby, which prompted state health officials to raise the town’s EEE risk level to critical, actually died in Connecticut, where the horse had lived for over a year, according to the horse’s owner.

Dan Dali Haber, owner of Mountain View Training Center in Granby, said that his horse, an 18-month-old filly named Gabrielle, was stabled in Salem, Connecticut, when she became infected with EEE and later died. Gabrielle had been stabled in the southeastern Connecticut town since March 2018, he said, and had not been in Granby at all between this time and her death.

EEE is a rare but serious mosquito-borne disease that often leads to death or permanent physical and mental disabilities in humans. It is almost always fatal in horses, usually within three days.

Gabrielle’s death by EEE led the state to designate Granby as at critical risk for EEE, and surrounding communities South Hadley and Belchertown earned a high-risk rating. But Dali Haber says that a mix-up seems to be afoot, calling into question whether these communities should have received critical or high-risk classifications.

“I just think it’s very strange that they haven’t corrected it, and they have us on a huge warning,” Dali Haber said.

After Gabrielle’s death, Dali Haber said that he had his horse brought to Tufts Equine Center for an autopsy, where he believes an error likely occurred because the veterinarians had his information on their paperwork, including his Granby address.

Dali Haber said that he considered whether a different horse in Granby could have contracted the disease, but heard no other reports suggesting an EEE case in town. A Facebook screenshot obtained by the Gazette shows that in an Aug. 8 Facebook post, Dali Haber announced that Gabrielle had died. The state’s Health and Human Services office website states that a Granby horse was stricken by EEE on Aug. 8.

The Gazette reached out to the state on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday and was told that it would receive a response but did not hear back as of Tuesday.

Dali Haber said he reached out to Tufts Equine Center on Aug. 30, the day after the state announced that a Granby horse had died of EEE, to inform them that there had been a mistake, and was told that the center would reach out to the state. He has received no updates since this time, which he finds concerning.

Granby Board of Health clerk Jeanne Crosby said that the board contacted the state to confirm whether the horse that died of EEE lived and died in Connecticut, but did not receive a response as of Tuesday morning.

The critical risk designation that the state placed on Granby comes with prevention measures such as canceling outdoor events during peak mosquito hours, which has led to some rescheduling of events in town.

In an Aug. 30 statement, the Board of Health wrote that it would be “actively restricting outdoor events between the hours of dusk and dawn” due to the critical risk classification.

The Granby school district also posted on its Facebook page that it would conduct all student activities between dawn and dusk, and USA Ultimate relocated a planned disc tournament, which had about 400 athletes registered, from Granby to Devens due to the critical risk.

Neighboring communities Belchertown and South Hadley also took precautions in light of their high-risk classifications, with the South Hadley Police Department’s Family Movie Night moved indoors. In Belchertown, Director of Public Health Judy Metcalf told the Gazette in August that the town would roll out a “public education campaign” due to the high risk.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.

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