Delaware WNV-Positive Horse Recovers

Delaware WNV-Positive Horse Recovers

Unvaccinated horses are at greatest risk of developing clinical signs of both WNV and EEE, which are spread by mosquitoes and can be fatal.

Photo: Photos.com

A second Delaware horse has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV), but has recovered, the Department of Agriculture announced Sept. 17.

The 2-year-old filly from Sussex County is the state’s second confirmed case of WNV in 2013, said Delaware State Veterinarian Heather Hirst, DVM, MS. Delaware’s first equine WNV case this year was diagnosed in Kent County in August; that horse has also recovered. 

Prior to this year, Delaware’s last confirmed equine case of WNV was in 2003, and the last case of equine Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), another mosquito-borne disease, was in 2005.

Owners should consult with their veterinarians about best WNV and EEE vaccination programs, Hirst said. Unvaccinated horses are at greatest risk of developing clinical signs of both WNV and EEE, which are spread by mosquitoes and can be fatal.

Both horses and humans can contract WNV and EEE if bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus, but it is important to note that the viruses are not transmitted between horses or from horses to people. The viruses normally exist in a cycle between mosquitoes and birds, but occasionally EEE can be transmitted from mosquitoes to mammals.

Hirst said horse owners should contact their veterinarian immediately if they suspect their horse could be showing signs of WNV or EEE. Clinical signs of EEE in horses include fever (102.5-104.5°F), loss of appetite, head pressing, depression or personality change, wobbling or staggering, weakness, blindness, convulsions, and muscle tremors in the head and neck. These signs are also consistent with WNV, although a fever might not be present with WNV.

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