Three More NY Horses Test Positive For West Nile

New York's Agriculture Commissioner Nathan L. Rutgers announced Tuesday that three horses in the Middletown area of Orange County have tested positive for WNV. One 16-year-old horse was euthanized on Sept. 7 and two horses are currently recovering from the disease.

“The bad news is that three more horses have tested positive with this deadly disease,” said Rudgers. “The good news is that with the arrival of the first frost just around the corner, New Yorkers and horse owners can be assured that the mosquito season is almost over. Until that time comes, we need to continue to take all the preventative measures we can to protect ourselves and our horses from this virus.”

All three horses showed neurologic symptoms such as muscle trembling and uncoordinated movements. The horse that died went down Sept. 6 and was unable to rise. The horse was euthanized the following day. The horse had also been on medication for heaves over the past two years.

The other two horses, both in their teens, although appearing wobbly, did not become ill as the older horse and are both recovering. They appear to have no other health problems. The initial onset of illness among these horses was around Labor Day and the last horse was diagnosed on Sept. 13.

All three horses were housed on the same farm in Orange County. Other horses on the farm are clinically normal and have tested negative for WNV at this time.

Horses become infected with WNV when infected mosquitoes bite them. Horses cannot spread West Nile to other horses, people, or pets.

To date, only one horse in New York State has tested positive for WNV and was euthanized on Aug. 20. Last year 25 horses on Long Island were critically ill with neurologic signs and had evidence of being infected with WNV. Nine of those horses died or were euthanized.

Not all horses that are infected with WNV become ill. Last year, samples from clinically normal horses that were stable mates of the affected horses showed that 29 percent of these horses had also been infected with WNV, even though they were never ill.

Precautions to decrease mosquito habitat can help minimize the chance of becoming infected with WNV. You can decrease mosquito habitat near your home and stable areas by emptying standing water from cans, tires, swimming pools, clogged gutters or other materials, which can serve as mosquito breeding sites. Also avoid letting water troughs become breeding sites; keep water fresh in troughs at all times.

For more information on WNV, spraying activities, or to report dead birds and areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed, New Yorkers should call their local or county Department of Health. Extensive information on West Nile Virus is also included on the state Department of Health's web site at www.health.state.ny.us.

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