South Carolina Horse Tests Positive for West Nile Virus

The affected mare was last vaccinated for WNV six years ago. The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends yearly vaccination against the potentially fatal disease.
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Berkeley County, SC
The affected mare in Berkeley County was last vaccinated for WNV six years ago. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The South Carolina State Veterinarian’s office has confirmed a 21-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse mare with West Nile virus (WNV). The mare, who was last vaccinated for WNV six years ago, was euthanized. The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends yearly vaccination against the potentially fatal disease.

About West Nile Virus

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

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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