A horse in Virginia has tested positive for West Nile Virus. This is the first case of WNV in Virginia in 2014. The horse, an eight-year-old Paint Gelding stabled in Augusta County, had not been vaccinated.
WNV is a mosquito-borne disease, and the first cases are generally seen in August and September, according to Dr. Joe Garvin, head of Laboratory Services at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The mosquito season in Virginia can run through November, and many veterinarians recommend vaccination at least yearly, but as often as semi-annually in mosquito-prone areas. The protocol calls for two doses of the WNV Vaccine administered three to six weeks apart. Vaccination against Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)—another mosquito-borne disease—is also recommended.
WNV can be contracted by humans as well, though horse to human transmission is unlikely. The usual vector is through a mosquito that has bitten an infected bird. Prevention methods other than vaccination would be the elimination of standing water sites, use of insect repellents, and removing horses and people from mosquito-infested areas from dusk to dawn.
There are no drugs with which to treat horses or humans who have contracted WNV. The mortality rate in horses is about thirty percent. A veterinarian should be consulted if a horse exhibits neurological symptoms, such as a stumbling gait, facial paralysis, going down, or drooping.
Posted September 30, 2014