New Mexico Horse Owners Advised to Vaccinate Against WNV

Owners are encouraged to vaccinate their horses prior to the onset of peak mosquito season.

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As mosquito season approaches, the New Mexico Livestock Board is encouraging owners across the state to vaccinate their horses against West Nile virus (WNV).

“Horse owners are encouraged to contact their veterinarian about vaccinating their horse or horses,” said acting state veterinarian Alexandra Eckhoff, DVM.

According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, horses represent 96.9% of all reported nonhuman cases of WNV in mammals. The virus is carried by many different mosquito species, which transmit it from infected birds to horses, humans, and other mammals. It is not transmissible from horse to horse or from horse to human. Both horses and humans are dead-end hosts for WNV, meaning they cannot pass the virus on to other biting mosquitoes.

In horses clinical signs for WNV include flulike signs, where the horse seems mildly anorexic and depressed; fine and coarse muscle and skin fasciculations (twitching); hyperesthesia (hypersensitivity to touch and sound); changes in mentation (mentality), when horses look like they are daydreaming or "just not with it"; occasional somnolence (drowsiness); propulsive walking (driving or pushing forward, often without control); and "spinal" signs, including asymmetrical weakness. Some horses show asymmetrical or symmetrical ataxia. Equine mortality rate can be as high as 30-40%

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