West Nile Virus Prevention Tips for Horse Owners

The very safest method of mosquito control for you, your horses and the environment includes reducing the breeding ground for mosquitoes: mud and stagnant water. Here is a checklist of horse farm management techniques for reducing mosquito habitat.
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I doubt there’s one among us that’s not aware of West Nile virus (WNV). Since the disease was first reported on in the United States in 1999, more than 30,000 people have been reported as getting sick with West Nile virus. As we all know, it’s the dreaded mosquito that spreads this serious, life altering disease.

This year incidences of the disease have been on the rise. As of September 4, 2012, 48 states have reported WNV infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes–1,993 cases in people, including 87 deaths. Over 70 percent of the cases have been reported primarily in six states: Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Michigan, however some type of WNV activity has hit the entire continental United States. Since the disease was first detected, this is the highest amount of cases reported for this time period.

As you may recall, most people who become infected with WNV don’t get sick. Some develop mild flu-like symptoms. In rare cases, WNV may cause encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. The majority of humans who die from WNV are older and may had a weakened immune system.

It appears to be different for horses; horses of all ages have succumbed to the disease. Symptoms of WNV are similar to other neurological conditions including rear limb buckling, knuckling over and ataxia. As of the first part of this month 33 states had reported 186 equine cases of WNV. Horses doing poorly rarely recover–the fatality rate for horses with WNV is about 33%–but fortunately there are steps that we can take that can help reduce our risk and the risk of our horses for exposure

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Written by:

Alayne Blickle, a lifelong equestrian and ranch riding competitor, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award-winning, internationally acclaimed environmental education program for horse owners. Well-known for her enthusiastic, down-to-earth approach, Blickle is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners since 1990 teaching manure composting, pasture management, mud and dust control, water conservation, chemical use reduction, firewise, and wildlife enhancement. She teaches and travels North America and writes for horse publications. Blickle and her husband raise and train their mustangs and quarter horses at their eco-sensitive guest ranch, Sweet Pepper Ranch, in sunny Nampa, Idaho.

One Response

  1. re: West Nile Virus Prevention Tips for Horse Owners

    You must also install proper drainage system in the stable or barns. One easy way is to gradually slope the ground to a center drain system that runs through all of the stalls that allows water and urine to run outside rather than sitting in the stall.

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