Take Steps to Protect Horses from WNV Now

Start thinking now about protecting yourself and your horse from West Nile virus (WNV), says a Kansas State University veterinarian.
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Start thinking now about protecting yourself and your horse from West Nile virus (WNV), says a Kansas State University veterinarian.

Beth Davis, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, professor and head of the equine medicine and surgery section at the College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Health Center, says there was an increase in equine West Nile virus cases in 2013. Summer 2014 is expected to have similar weather patterns to summer 2013, so the risk of infections is just as high.

"We look to species like horses to help give us some insight into how likely humans are to have problems with the virus, but it's important to recognize that these sort of weather patterns create a high risk for mosquitoes to transmit the disease not only to horses, but also to potentially make humans sick," Davis said.

West Nile is an encephalitic disease, which means it causes inflammation of the central nervous system, specifically around the brain. It's a virally induced disease that is transferred to horses and humans through bites from infected mosquitoes. So far, eight states have reported West Nile virus infections in mosquitoes, birds, or veterinary animals. Mississippi has reported one human case. Davis says the peak season for infection is mid- to late summer, during the warmer months. That's why it's important to start prevention methods now to be protected by July

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