Colorado Horse Diagnosed With WNV

This case in Weld County marks the state’s first confirmed West Nile virus case in 2021.
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Weld County, Colorado
This is Colorado’s first confirmed equine case of WNV in 2021. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) officials have confirmed an unvaccinated horse from Weld County positive with West Nile virus (WNV).

The affected horse exhibited acute neurologic signs on July 24 and is recovering.

This is Colorado’s first confirmed equine case of WNV in 2021.

About West Nile Virus

WNV transmission occurs when infected mosquitoes feed on animals, as well as humans, after having fed on infected birds.

Health Alert: West Nile Virus in Horses
RELATED CONTENT | Health Alert: West Nile Virus in Horses (Video)

Clinical signs of WNV in horses include:

  • Mild anorexia and depression
  • Fine and coarse muscle and skin fasciculation;
  • Hyperesthesia (hypersensitivity to touch and sound);
  • Changes in mentation (mentality), when horses look like they’re daydreaming or “just not with it”;
  • Occasional drowsiness;
  • Propulsive walking (driving or pushing forward, often without control);
  • Spinal signs, including asymmetrical weakness; and
  • Asymmetrical or symmetrical ataxia.

West Nile virus has no cure; however, some horses can recover with supportive care. Equine mortality rates can reach 30-40%. The American Association of Equine Practitioners includes WNV as one of the core diseases all horses should be vaccinated against at least annually.


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