Kentucky Reports Ninth Equine WNV Case for 2013

Kentucky Reports Ninth Equine WNV Case for 2013

WNV is a viral disease transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes. Equine mortality rate can be as high as 30-40%.


The Kentucky State Veterinarian's office announced Oct. 11 that a Warren County horse has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV).

A statement from Kentucky Equine Programs manager E.S. "Rusty" Ford relayed that on Oct. 6 the 2-year-old Standardbred gelding—who has no WNV vaccination history—began showing mild ataxia (incoordination) that progressively worsened in rear limbs over 72 hours. The horse also developed partial facial paralysis.

As of Oct 11, the gelding's condition was improving and he had resumed eating and drinking, Ford's statement said.

The most recent case is the ninth equine WNV case confirmed this year in eight Kentucky counties: Calloway, Christian, Edmonson, Graves (2), Hopkins, Lincoln, Todd, Warren. Eight of the WNV-affected horses are reportedly recovering or have recovered; one affected horse was euthanized. None of the affected horses had been vaccinated against WNV.

WNV is a viral disease transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes. 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 rates can be as high as 30-40%.

The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported 627 cases of WNV in U.S. horses in 2012; 13 cases were reported last year in Kentucky.

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 eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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