Minnesota Confirms First Equine WNV Case for 2016

The unvaccinated 1.5-year-old Friesian stallion has been unable to stand for a week and is receiving supportive care.
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An unvaccinated horse in Winthrop, Minnesota, has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). The 1.5-year-old Friesian stallion has been unable to stand for a week and is receiving supportive care.

This is the first confirmed case of 2016 affecting a Minnesota horse.

West Nile Virus is regularly found in the United States, and birds serve as the primary host of the disease. Infected mosquitoes can transmit the virus from birds and then carry it to horses or people. 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%.

The clinical signs of WNV can be consistent with other important neurologic diseases such as equine encephalitis, rabies, and equine herpesvirus; therefore it is important to work with your veterinarian to get an accurate diagnosis through laboratory testing

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