West Nile cases rise in horses

By: Kari Hall Email
By: Kari Hall Email

These two horses are among the ten undergoing rehabilitation at the Shafer Equine Services.

We're in the midst of the largest nationwide West Nile outbreak in history. And it's not only affecting humans. Many horses have been sickened with some being euthanized.

Wednesday the newest case of West Nile affecting horses was confirmed. That brings the total to 9 in the commonwealth with the latest case in Franklin county.

"Five were euthanized. Four have survived the infection," says Rusty Ford, Program Manager for the Kentucky Office of the State Veterinarian.

Most of those cases are in Central and southern KY with 2 in Henry county.

"It's high from last year. Last year I had one case. It's low compared to 2002 when I had 513 in the state," says Ford.

2002 was before farmers vaccinated their horses which reduced number drastically in the past 5 years.

"You'll see the bottom lip just drool a bit and more significantly the ataxia. We'll begin to see neurologic symptoms. In coordination of the rear limbs is what we look for," says Ford.

Ford advises farmers remove any stagnant water and get their horses vaccinated. Even though vaccinations are not a sure fire way of preventing West Nile it does reduce the chances and the severity of the symptoms. The west nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes which have thrived in the warm weather this year.

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