By CBSLA Staff

REDLANDS (CBSLA) — Dozens of burros have died since October from an outbreak of equine influenza in Redlands and the surrounding area.

Equine influenza, which is specific to horses, mules and donkeys and does not affect other species of animals, is a highly contagious virus that spreads rapidly through aerosolized droplets, according to Redlands spokesman Carl Baker. Clinical signs include fever, edema and enlarged lymph nodes and can be severe in younger horses, donkeys and mules.

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(credit: City Of Redlands)

Dozens of burros have died from the virus since mid-October and the city says they expect more to die. Most of the deaths have occurred in the canyon areas between Redlands and Riverside County.

Horse owners were urged to consult their veterinarians and get booster vaccines for previously vaccinated animals. They should also try to keep their animals from being exposed to sick burros by moving them away from fence lines in areas where burros are known to frequent, and avoid traveling with them if they may have been exposed. People should also avoid having visitors with horses come to their properties due to the risk of indirect transmission.

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The outbreak is being monitored by the state and officials in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Redlands Animal Control is working with state Department of Food and Agriculture veterinarians, while Donkeyland Rescue and San Bernardino County Animal Care & Control are working to provide information and help for sick burros.

City officials say humans do not contract equine influenza but can act as fomites and transmit the virus between horses. The public is also being urged to avoid feeding or any other contact with burros, especially anyone who owns horses.

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Sick animals in the city of Redlands can be reported by calling (909) 798-7644.