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West Nile still a threat to horses: It’s not too late to vaccinate

 

Wyoming Livestock Board

1934 Wyott Drive

Cheyenne, WY 82002

 

As fall approaches, horse owners might be tempted to believe the threat of West Nile Virus is waning. However, cases of West Nile Virus in horses continue to be reported throughout the state of Wyoming. At least 15 have been diagnosed this season by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory, according to Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan.

 

"The vector season for West Nile Virus can last until a hard frost kills or inactivates the vectors," warns Logan. Which is why the Wyoming Livestock Board veterinary staff recommends that owners go ahead and vaccinate their horses if they have not done so already.

 

Horses are far more affected by the West Nile Virus than other livestock and domestic animals. Signs of West Nile include initial flulike symptoms, where the horse becomes lethargic and depressed, followed by weakness, incoordination and seizures. Of those that become ill, about 30 percent die or need to be euthanized, according to Wyoming Livestock Board staff veterinarians.

 

Because mosquitoes are the main source of transmission for the West Nile Virus, controlling mosquito populations and preventing horses from being exposed to them can help. However, the West Nile Virus vaccine is still the best method of prevention, providing over 90 percent protection. While the Wyoming Livestock Board veterinary staff recommends vaccinating all foals and horses against the disease in the spring, prior to peak mosquito levels, owners who have not yet vaccinated this year should still consider doing so, due to the rising number of recently reported cases around the state.

 

"It’s not too late to have your horses vaccinated," said Logan.

 

For further information, or to talk to a Wyoming state veterinarian, please call the Wyoming Livestock Board’s Cheyenne office at 307-777-7515 or the Riverton Field Office at 307-857-4140.

 

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