Nevada Owners Urged to Vaccinate Horses Against WNV

With heavy rain and snowfall earlier in the year, mosquito habitats and breeding sites with standing water are abundant.
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With the recent report of a human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in southern Nevada, the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) is encouraging horse owners throughout the state to vaccinate against the disease.

“Vaccination is the best protection horse owners have for their animals,” JJ Goicoechea, DVM, the NDA’s state veterinarian, said. “Vaccinations, in conjunction with practices that reduce exposure to mosquitos, are very effective in protecting horses from WNV.”

West Nile is transmitted to horses via bites from infected mosquitoes. Clinical signs for WNV are flulike, 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

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