Time to Vaccinate Horses for West Nile Virus

Sabrina Cattle

As the weather warms up and mosquitoes become more active, California horse owners are told to talk their veterinarian about West Nile Virus. Sabrina Hill has more.
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West Nile Virus peaked in California a number of years ago, but it still remains a risk. In 2012, West Nile Virus infection was confirmed in 22 horses in California, eight of which died or were euthanized. The number of detections was the highest since 2008. Also in 2012, West Nile Virus infection was confirmed in 479 people in California, which was also a significant spike over recent years.

Outbreaks of West Nile virus are still a risk for horses and California State Veterinarian Annette Jones says horse owners should contact their veterinarians as soon as possible to make sure their animals’ vaccination status is current.

Signs of West Nile virus include stumbling, staggering, wobbling, weakness, muscle twitching and inability to stand. Horses contract the disease from carrier mosquitoes. Over the past 10 years, approximately 40 percent of horses infected with West Nile Virus died or were euthanized.