California Confirms Equine WNV Case

The 5-year-old gelding is reported as alive and recovering.
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San Joaquin County, CA
On Oct. 6, officials at the California Department of Food and Agriculture confirmed a 5-year-old Arabian gelding in San Joaquin County with West Nile virus (WNV). | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On Oct. 6, officials at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) confirmed a 5-year-old Arabian gelding in San Joaquin County with West Nile virus (WNV). The gelding had first showed clinical signs consistent with WNV on Sept. 29. Signs consisted of hypersensitivity to touch, facial fasciculations (twitching), and ataxia (incoordination) in all four limbs. He was unvaccinated against WNV and is reported as alive and recovering.

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
VIDEO | Health Alert: West Nile Virus in Horses

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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