Minnesota Confirms First Equine WNV Case of 2017

The 33-year-old American Quarter Horse mare from Euclid was vaccinated in the spring. She is recovering.

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A 33-year-old American Quarter Horse mare in Euclid, Minnesota, has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). This is the first confirmed case in a Minnesota horse since August 2016. 

The attending veterinarian reported that on Oct. 9 the horse presented with incoordination and exhibited weakness in both hind legs. The horse responded to supportive care to control pain and inflammation, and showed significant improvement in clinical signs within a week. Laboratory results confirmed West Nile virus on Oct. 23. The horse’s vaccine history is unknown prior to 2015 when the reporting veterinarian began vaccinating the mare annually, with the most recent vaccine being administered this spring.

“Vaccination is the primary method of reducing the risk of infection from West Nile virus in horses,” said Courtney Wheeler, DVM, senior veterinarian in charge of the equine program at the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. “Although clinical disease may not be completely prevented, multiple studies indicate vaccination is effective, and veterinarians are encouraged to recommend it as a core vaccine for all horses.”

Positive WNV test results must be reported to the Board of Animal Health. This year WNV has been confirmed in 246 horses in 37 states including Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, and the Minnesota Department of Health has documented 23 human cases

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