Kentucky's 13th WNV Case Confirmed

Three Kentucky horses were confirmed as having West Nile virus (WNV) today (Sept. 19), bringing to total for 2006 to 13, according to Rusty Ford, Equine Programs Manager, Kentucky State Veterinarian's office. None of the horses were vaccinated; all are still alive.

One horse was an 8-year-old Quarter Horse gelding in Fulton County, onset of clinical signs Sept. 12. One premise in Todd County had two confirmed cases,  a 20-year-old Paint gelding  with an onset of  clinical signs Sept. 18, and a 7-year-old Quarter Horse gelding with onset of clinical signs Sept. 17.

West Nile virus (WNV) was first identified in October 1999 in New York. Clinical signs for WNV include:

  • Flu-like signs, where the horse seems mildly anorexic and depressed.
  • Fine and coarse muscle and skin fasciculations (twitching).
  • Hyperesthesia, or 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).
  • "Spinal" signs, including asymmetrical weakness. Some horses show asymmetrical or symmetrical ataxia (incoordination on one or both sides, respectively).

Other signs include paralysis of the lips, facial muscles, or tongue. Some victims also have a head tilt and difficulty swallowing.

Vaccination and mosquito control are the best preventative measures.

West Nile virus infection was identified in nine Kentucky equine during all of 2005. Six of the nine survived and three were euthanatized. Eight animals had received no vaccination against WNV, and no information was available on the ninth. 

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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