owners advised to take precautions
Veterinarians in Colorado report the first confirmed case of West Nile Virus in a horse. In Utah, mosquitos carrying the West Nile Virus have been discovered in stagnant bodies of water in Box , Uintah and Washington Counties.
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is strongly advising horse owners throughout the state to protect their animals by vaccinating them for the West Nile Virus if they haven’t already done so.
Horse owners can protect their animals by applying approved repellants to the animals and by controlling mosquitoes and mosquito breeding areas. Horse owners may also protect the animals by putting them in the barn or other enclosed structures.
Horse owners are advised to check with their veterinarian to assure their horse’s vaccination status is current.
The WNV vaccine is available from local veterinarians. WNV is not transmissible from horses to humans.
No human or animal cases of West Nile Virus have been reported by the Utah Department of Health or Department of Agriculture And Food.
The most common sign of West Nile Virus in horses is weakness, usually in the hindquarters. Weakness may be indicated by a widened stance, stumbling, leaning to one side and toe dragging. In extreme cases, paralysis may follow. Fever is sometimes evident, as are depression and fearfulness. WNV causes encephalitis and affects the central nervous system.
Horse owners who suspect West Nile viral infection of their animal should contact their veterinarian immediately. Approximately 1/3 of horses that show signs of the illness will die. Eighty percent of WNV in horses occurs in the months of August and September.
Horse owners who have not already done so should contact their veterinarian and have their horses vaccinated, though vaccination after exposure may not protect the horse against the disease. The equine vaccine requires two doses and takes approximately five weeks to offer protection from the disease. Once vaccinated, yearly booster shots are necessary.
If you have questions concerning your health or believe you may have contracted West Nile Virus, please contact your physician.
For more information about the West Nile Virus, please visit the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food’s web page at: www.ag.utah.gov/ or the Utah Department of Health’s web page: www.health.utah.gov/.