The American Horse Council reports that all restrictions in connection with the West Nile virus outbreak in the United States have been lifted on shipping horses to the European Union. The change took effect as of February 1.

In October of 1999, the European Union instituted a ban on the importation of horses which had been in the states of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey within 15 days prior to exportation into Europe. The ban was issued in response to the isolation of West Nile virus (WNV) in three horses on Long Island, New York last year.

WNV is a viral encephalitis affecting the central nervous system that can kill horses. Migratory birds are considered the primary means of the spread of WNV and it is believed that the disease was brought into the U.S. by a bird and then spread by mosquitoes. WNV also affects humans and seven deaths were reported in New York during the same period. For past articles about West Nile on The Horse Interactive, visit

West Nile virus is known to exist in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Its identification in the New York area was the first time it has been found in the Americas.

For more information regarding the West Nile virus, visit the American Horse Council (AHC) web site at