Wexford County, Michigan, Horse Contracts WNV

Wexford County, Michigan, Horse Contracts WNV

People and animals can be exposed to WNV by a bite from an infected mosquito.

Photo: Photos.com

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently notified District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) that a horse tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV).

The horse is from Wexford County and is one of seven to test positive for WNV statewide this year. Currently, 42 counties in Michigan have had one or more birds test positive for WNV, including Mecosta County from the DHD#10 area.

“West Nile Virus continues to be a risk in Michigan and has been present in the state for over 10 years”, said Tom Reichard, director of environmental health services.

People and animals can be exposed to WNV by a bite from an infected mosquito. Clinical signs for WNV in horses include flulike signs, where the horse seems mildly anorexic and depressed; fine and coarse muscle and skin fasciculation; hyperesthesia; 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%.

Health Alert: West Nile Virus

Horse owners should also consult their private practicing veterinarian to determine an appropriate disease prevention plan for their horses. Vaccines have proven to be a very effective prevention tool. Horses that have been vaccinated in past years will need an annual booster shot; in areas with a prolonged mosquito season, veterinarians might recommend two boosters annually—one in the spring and another in the fall. However, if an owner did not vaccinate their animal in previous years, the horse will need the two-shot vaccination series within a three- to six-week period.

In addition to vaccinations, horse owners also need to reduce the mosquito populations and their possible breeding areas. Recommendations include removing stagnant water sources, keeping animals inside during the bugs’ feeding times, which are typically early in the morning and evening, and applying mosquito repellents approved for equine use.

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