Kentucky Confirms Two New Equine WNV Cases

Find My Horses Presents: Kentucky Confirms Two New Equine WNV Cases

The Kentucky State Veterinarian's office has announced that two horses—one from Logan County and one in Union County—have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV).

These are the fifth and sixth equine WNV cases confirmed in the commonwealth this year, Kentucky Equine Programs manager E.S. "Rusty" Ford said in a statement.

In Logan County, a 10-year-old Belgian mare with no WNV vaccination history began displaying signs of disease—including lethargy, mild ataxia (incoordination, predominantly in the hind limbs) and inappetence—on Oct. 31. As of Nov. 3, the attending veterinarian reported the mare was showing signs of improvement.

In Union County, a 2-year-old American Saddlebred colt with no WNV vaccination history began exhibiting muscle fasciculation (twitching) and mild ataxia on Oct. 31. As of Nov. 11, the colt was reported to be in a stable condition.

In his statement, Ford said none of the six Kentucky horses that contracted WNV had been vaccinated.

Health Alert: West Nile Virus

West Nile is transmitted to horses via bites from infected mosquitoes. Clinical signs for WNV include flulike signs, where the horse seems mildly anorexic and depressed; fine and coarse muscle and skin fasciculation; hyperesthesia (hypersensitivity to touch and sound); changes in mentation (mentality), when horses look like they are daydreaming or "just not with it"; occasional somnolence (drowsiness); propulsive walking (driving or pushing forward, often without control); and "spinal" signs, including asymmetrical weakness. Some horses show asymmetrical or symmetrical ataxia. Equine mortality rate can be as high as 30-40%.

Horse owners should also consult their private practicing veterinarian to determine an appropriate disease prevention plan for their horses. Vaccines have proven to be a very effective prevention tool. Horses that have been vaccinated in past years will need an annual booster shot. However, if an owner did not vaccinate their animal in previous years, the horse will need the two-shot vaccination series within a three- to six-week period.

In addition to vaccinations, horse owners also need to reduce the mosquito populations and their possible breeding areas. Recommendations include removing stagnant water sources, keeping animals inside during the bugs’ feeding times, which are typically early in the morning and evening, and using mosquito repellents.

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