West Nile Virus is Still a Threat, TheHorse.com Readers Say

More than 890 readers of TheHorse.com responded to a poll asking, "Do you believe West Nile is still a threat to your horse(s)?"

results of poll on West Nile virus

Results were as follows: 
  • Yes 86.50% (775)
  • No 13.50% (121)

Readers shared why they feel West Nile is or is not a big threat in the comments below.

Results of weekly polls from TheHorse.com are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter. Published every week, this e-newsletter offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters using the form above or on our e-newsletter page.  

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  • We've had confirmed cases in area
  • there were positive cases in our state last year
  • After having the shot for years I believe they build an Immunity.
  • its endemic like EEE
  • not in the area
  • I am Australian
  • If people in my state have had it I am sure my horses could still get it!
  • In our area, with high misquito populations, and the reports of illness seems to move north yearly.
  • I think the threat was exagerated by the drug companies, as is usually the case. GREED based
  • mosquitos are everywhere
  • Vaccine
  • my horses are vaccinated
  • Although all 6 of my horses are vaccinated for protection against West Niles. Nothing is 100%
  • wide use of vaccines
  • Absolutely
  • I don't believe the rates have yet peaked in the NW US.
  • As long as there are mosquitos, it will be a threat.
  • No more than any other mosquito-borne illness
  • Other owners don't vaccinate
  • vaccination
  • I think that if it is in the bird and mosquito population, they COULD contract it
  • We have a creek near by & therefore have lots of mosquitoes.
  • I live on the gulf coast
  • it is still a threat to all animals, becoming more so each year
  • Dead birds still found in county due to west nile.
  • even though i vaccinated, it is still a fear due to the increased amount of rain and standing water.
  • exists in my area
  • there is a pond on the property
  • Immunize yearly
  • Horses today are fed "junk food"; thus compromizing the imune system
  • Live within 50 miles of a recent case.
  • there are many horses in my area who have died from west nile. I vaccinate my horses.
  • There are still lots of cases annually in our area
  • because its from mosquitos and they are very plentiful here where i live,
  • I mantain a vaccination schedule every year and do not have standing water on our property
  • Vaccinate for West Nile each year; use flyspray; stable at dawn & dusk; minimize mozzie habitat
  • I vaccinate and monitor.
  • My mare got it at age 25 and is 30 now and is immune
  • there hasnt been a case in my area for 3yrs. also not many mosquitoes.
  • Mine are immune
  • West Nile has been discovered aleady in Wa state
  • I just lost my best mare to West Nile
  • We vaccinate and do not have a problem with mosquitos on our farm.
  • Only if they are not vaccinated correctly
  • mosquitos abound
  • due to abnormal rainy weather this year and water standing everyplace...mosquitos seem aggresive
  • lost a horse last year to WNV
  • regular vaccinations can prevent West Nile
  • Still mosquitos carrying virus!
  • More so to some regions than others
  • make sure there is no standing water and that the horses are vaccinated
  • As my horses and I live in Australia
  • With the loss of bats due to white nose disease, there will be more and more mosquitoes.
  • Abundance of mosquitos in my area
  • colorado springs discontinued monitoring
  • i live in an area where there are still reported cases.
  • Duh!!! It is now endemic throughout the USA. There is study after study and report after report.
  • There are confirmed cases in my area every year
  • the shot is not 100 percent; but so far so good - It's doing a good job vaccinating once a year.
  • Yes there is and prevention is better the no prevention and death
  • I think most healthy horses build a natural immunity to the virus.
  • We have had a lot of rain, so west nile is a threat
  • bad mosquito year
  • the vaccine and i havent heard of many postitive cases in horses in the past year
  • Any hot humid, wet year is a threat
  • not enough known about the disease
  • skeeter's everywhere!!
  • she has gotten the vaccine from our vet to prevent this
  • no one knows for sure
  • because my horse was rearing during his shot of west nile, and the vet only got 1/2 of the vacine in
  • mosquitoes are still out there and I feel that some still carry WN
  • more mosquitos than ever showing up in all areas
  • Until WN is eradicated, it will be a threat... vaccinated or not.
  • Which is why I vaccinate my horses yearly!! It's still a nationwide threat!!
  • Yes it is a threat as long as we have to vaccinate against it.
  • my horses got the shots to prevent this
  • if u take extra precautions u can prevent it
  • lots of bugs and wet lands near me
  • Many bugs that can carry WN and is very deadly
  • She is vaccinated
  • Better safe than sorry!
  • The mosquito population has greatly increased in my area this year,& I have seen dead crows recently
  • Probably pretty great, only we have vaccines now, BUT.
  • heavy rain fall this year on the east coast
  • not confident in the vaccine as of yet
  • It is still out there, and horses remain unprotected.
  • Because there was a case here not to long ago!
  • I don't know!
  • There are quite a few mosquitos in my area and not enough bats to eat them
  • from mosquito surveys published
  • once vaccinated
  • uncontrolled mosquito population and hot,humid climate
  • There is still moisture and the disease never disappears.
  • Birds in area have tested positive.
  • We have 18 genera of mosquitoes in AZ and yes we have water!
  • It is always a threat where mosquitos are.
  • In Thailand there is no report of outbreak
  • no more talk about wnv from the media. I believe it is all hype
  • mosquitos still carry the disease
  • Better safe than sorry!
  • AS LONG AS MOSQUITOES EXIST THERE IS A THREAT.
  • We live in a mosquito prone area.
  • Mosquitos can infect no matter where they live.
  • With the amount of rain that we have had, mosquitoes are in abundance.
  • It could kill my horse. We need to vaccinate. wet,
  • raining weather results in standing water and mosquito breeding grounds
  • As long as mosquitos are around I will vaccinate
  • It is a threat because it is endemic in my area (North Texas) and cases are diagnosed every summer.
  • still have mosquitoes don't we??
  • lot of rain and standing water in missouri
  • Especially this year with all the rain we've gotten in No. VA; mosquito paradise!
  • It's June and already on the news they said West Nile was showing up in South West MO
  • Yes, because we have lots of mosquitoes; but EEE is a much deadlier mosquito-borne disease.
  • I vacinate still to protect mine ponies.
  • They have had their shots and not many skeeters here I believe that exposed horses developed immunity
  • unvaccinated horses are susceptible.
  • There are so many mosquitoes in our area. Vaccines are not 100 percent. Lots of cases all around us.
  • still in wild bird and mosquito populations; must vacinate!!
  • It is part of the environment now.
  • Yes. No guarantee that the vaccine will prevent even a mild infection
  • It never was
  • Lots of skeeters here in late summer to bring unwelcome guests
  • We are no longer a pristine population.
  • I live in Florida with a high vector population
  • it's not been elimiated, the disease is still here, the mosquitos are still here
  • Every year I think the threat is gone, then I hear of another outbreak. I don't want to take a chanc
  • one of our horses caught it this spring
  • unforunately
  • have no reported cases where I live
  • They are vacinated, but it can still break through
  • consistent vaccination and mosquito control
  • yes, but not as bad as 2001
  • We just had a confirmed case here in Washington
  • I vaccinated!
  • I think WNV is going to be around for a long time. We need to be proactive owners.
  • i've seen a horse go down for the count with west nile. not my horse and never will be.
  • Rain+enormous mosquito population+many unvaccinated horses=lots of cases of West Nile!
  • In Texas - Yes!
  • I live in florida and they are horrible right now. I worry about that all the time.
  • I will assume it is unless my vet says otherwise.
  • I believe any blood sucking insect is a threat to my animals and myself
  • My horse has been vaccinated against it.
  • Not with vaccinations
  • Ya! It is and always will be!
  • might be minor threat but has pretty much run its course in the east
  • Mosquitos are still with us.
  • they are vaccinated for wnv
  • I vaccinate for WN, There are still reports of infected birds in my area.
  • We still have yearly cases in Tucson, AZ
  • I'm in California, and humans are still contracting.
  • I vaccinate regularly
  • Mosquitos are numerous in the NE - the carrier of WNV
  • because the vaccine isn't foolproof and there is more and more mosquitos!
  • But not a threat if you vaccinate against it regularly.
  • but not as much as other things
  • because there will always be mosquitos
  • Endemic threat to horses and people
  • In MN mosquitoes are thick here from May through Sept.
  • There is always the possibility of it still being transmitted
  • If mosquitoes aren't spreading West Nile they will spread something else! They're all over!
  • my veterinarian related new cases in my area last year
  • Infected dead birds have been found in my community.
  • somewhat of a threat but here there have been no reported cases in my area
  • not reported here yet, but could be in the future
  • absolutely, nothing is 100 percent !
  • I am certian that they have been exposed and are naturaly resistant
  • virtually all west has antibodies now
  • They are still finding infected mosquitoes
  • because some horses still get it
  • Quite possibly.
  • Mosquitos? Are they now extinct? Vaccinate until they are forever gone!
  • lots of water, lost a horse before and will not chance it again
  • not as much as before because i think they have more of an immunity now
  • Not to healthy adults that were born and live in Florida
  • there are still mosquitoes aren't there?
  • it's endemic by now, but like tetanus or rabies a reasonable not excessive risk.
  • I am in St. Louis County and West Nile has been confirmed in this area's mosquitos
  • Until the mosquitos carring WNV are eradicated, WNV will always be a threat
  • vaccinated and stabled during peak periods of mosquito activity
  • My vet told me it's been around enough in my area that vaccination was not necessary anymore.
  • They are still recommending vaccination in our area
  • Where there are mosquitos, there is the possibility of WNV.
  • wet spring - more mosquitos
  • West Nile doesn't always lead to encephalitis, or even WN fever.
  • Outdoor horses already have titers
  • Live in Florida with lots of mosquitos
  • I do not know of anyone in S.W. MO that has had a problem with it.
  • My horse tested positive last summer.
  • We have our horses vaccinated annually, and one of our older geldings STILL caught it 2 years ago!
  • Just because vaccinated horses arent getting sick, doesnt mean the mosquito isnt still carrying WNV
  • part of country I live in
  • The virus is still present and continues to be carried by mosquitos.
  • still found in the area in pools and birds
  • Its in our area, documented by state pathologist
  • However, haven't heard of any cases in our area in a while
  • No cases in my state or surrounding states for several years
  • I continue to hear of people and horses becoming infected.
  • sentinel flocks show in my area
  • We had a rainly winter here AND we have MOnsoon season which dumps puddles of standing water
  • No - unless the equine is unhealthy
  • I don't think the carrier of it is eliminated
  • YES! 179 equine cases in US in 2008
  • There are still mosquitos
  • Our area is hot and humid. Prime breeding ground for Mosquitos.
  • I vaccinated 1st yr, had bad reactions, haven't vaccinated again. Not all mosquitoes carry WNV.
  • we're in Texas and so are mosquitos
  • misquitoes are the carriers and they are everywhere
  • VACCINATED
  • I vacinate
  • You never really know what diseases those pesky mosquitos are carrying
  • With all of the rain in Oklahoma and the lack of a hard winter, mosquitos are horrible here.
  • The mosquitos still carry the disease. The risks outweigh the costs/inconvenience of vaccinating.
  • it's ability to jump species
  • I don't believe it is a serious threat because it is treatable and not necessarily fatal.
  • We live near a wetlands preserve - too risky not to give the WN shot! We have mosquitos year round in Texas
  • Yes, it's very much a threat where I live.
  • Living near the Rio Grande River, the famous mosquito is always around!
  • I live in a wooded area with lots of mosquitos
  • Because my veterinarian gives my horses their West Nile vaccine every year.......
  • YES BECAUSE THERE ARE SEVERAL HUMAN CASES, HORSES ARE EXPOSED MORE THAN HUMANS ARE
  • I vaccinate and I trust my vet -- I take NO chances with the health of my Clydesdales.
  • I live in a bird flyway--it will always be a problem
  • Horse contracted west nile first year it reached Ontario. After that will ALWAYS vacinnate
  • viruses mutate
  • Reduction in local government spending on vector control due to bad economy
  • Our farm is surrounded by a river, flood plain and a hay field. I still think it's a risk.
  • Because I live next to the dismal swamp and horses have contracted it close to my property.
  • It is a threat that has been reduced through good vaccination programs - the reason to keep it up!
  • Confirmed Cases here in state of Washington so, yes, there is still a threat!!
  • There have been West Nile horse deaths in my area.
  • because we vaccinate

About the Author

Megan Arszman

Megan Arszman received a Bachelor of Science In print journalism and equine science from Murray State University in Murray, Ky., and loves combining her love of horses, photography, and writing. In her “free time,” when she’s not busy working as a horse show secretary or riding her American Quarter Horses on her parents’ Indiana farm, she’s training and competing her Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Swedish Vallhund in dog agility and running.

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