WNV Confirmed in a Florida Horse

This is the state’s third confirmed case of WNV in an equine in 2021.
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WNV Confirmed in a Florida Horse
WNV transmission occurs when infected mosquitoes feed on animals, as well as humans, after having fed on infected birds. | iStock
On Oct. 27, officials at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) confirmed a 10-year-old Quarter Horse gelding at a private facility in Lake County with West Nile virus (WNV). The horse first showed clinical signs of WNV on Oct. 18. Signs consisted of depression, incoordination, muscle twitching, and hind-limb weakness. The horse was undervaccinated for WNV and is reported as recovering.

This is Florida’s third confirmed case of WNV in an equine 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
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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