Kentucky's Twelfth Equine WNV Case of 2012 Confirmed

Kentucky's Twelfth Equine WNV Case of 2012 Confirmed

The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends vaccinating all horses against WNV at least annually, sometimes more frequently in certain geographic locations.

Photo: Erica Larson, News Editor

Kentucky animal health officials have confirmed an additional case of equine West Nile virus (WNV) in 2012, according to a Sept. 19 statement from Kentucky Equine Programs Manager E.S. "Rusty" Ford.

The affected horse--an unvaccinated 5-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse gelding from Garrad County--began showing clinical signs on Sept. 17. He presented muscular fasciculation, abdominal discomfort, and neurologic deficits (specifically knuckling over while walking) that progressively worsened, Ford's statement said. He was euthanized on Sept. 18.

Kentucky has now confirmed 12 WNV cases on 11 premises in 10 counties (Bourbon, Franklin, Garrad, Henderson, Henry, Laurel, Metcalfe, Scott, Shelby, and Warren) so far this year. Six are recovering while six, including the Garrad County gelding, have been euthanized. Ford reported that eight affected horses were unvaccinated, three were partially vaccinated, and one was reportedly vaccinated.

The United States Geological Survey Disease Maps, updated Sept. 18, report 299 cases of equine WNV in the United States thus far in 2012.

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%.

Effective WNV vaccinations are commercially available for horses and the American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends vaccinating all horses against the disease at least annually, sometimes more frequently in certain geographic locations. Ensure your horse's vaccines are up to date, and contact a local veterinarian if questions arise about individual horses.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in three-day eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners