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Equine West Nile Virus case reported in Colorado

By Roberta Tolan
SUN Columnist

Photo courtesy Lisa Scott Members of the Rocky Mountain Riders 4-H Club pose following the 4-H Horse Show at the county fair, where riders exhibited their riding and horsemanship skills in a variety of contests. From left are Diana Scott, Jennifer Smith, Jacey Holt, Kaylee Fitzwater, Lacey Holt, Nichelle Hutcherson and Caitlin Adams. Missing from the photo is Lamont Daniels. Club Leaders Lynn Johnson and Alex Loewen guided the group all year during weekly riding sessions.

Photo courtesy Lisa Scott
Members of the Rocky Mountain Riders 4-H Club pose following the 4-H Horse Show at the county fair, where riders exhibited their riding and horsemanship skills in a variety of contests. From left are Diana Scott, Jennifer Smith, Jacey Holt, Kaylee Fitzwater, Lacey Holt, Nichelle Hutcherson and Caitlin Adams. Missing from the photo is Lamont Daniels. Club Leaders Lynn Johnson and Alex Loewen guided the group all year during weekly riding sessions.

The first reported equine case of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been diagnosed in Colorado as of Aug. 14, 2013.

The WNV positive horse is a 3-month-old colt from Montezuma County.

“West Nile Virus is a disease that threatens the health of humans, horses and other animals. This is the time of year when we are most likely to see it reported in horses,” said Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr. “It is difficult to project how many cases we may see in the coming months.”

The transmission of the disease varies from year to year and depends on a number of factors, including mosquito numbers. The WNV can be carried by infected birds and then spread locally by mosquitoes that bite those birds. The mosquitoes can then pass the virus to humans and animals.

Infected horses may display symptoms including head tilt, muscle tremors, stumbling, lack of coordination, weakness of the limbs or partial paralysis. The clinical signs of WNV are consistent with other important neurological diseases such as equine encephalitis, rabies and equine herpes virus; therefore, it is important to work with your veterinarian to get an accurate diagnosis through laboratory testing. 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. 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 using mosquito repellents.

“It is important to protect your horse through WNV vaccination and good management practices,” said Roehr.

For complete and updated information concerning new WNV equine case information including numbers and location of test positive horses, visit: www.fightthebitecolorado.com or www.cdphe.state.co.us/dc/zoonosis/wnv.

Free wood chips

Free wood chips are available at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds on U.S. 84 in Pagosa Springs. If you have any questions, contact the Extension office at 264-5931.

Calendar

Aug. 22 — Colorado Master Gardeners potluck, 6 p.m.

Aug. 28 — Archuleta County Fair Board meeting, 6 p.m.

Aug. 29 — Harvest and Storage of Fresh Vegetables Workshop, 9 a.m.

Colorado State University Extension provides science based information on youth development (4-H), agriculture and natural resources, horticulture, family and consumer sciences and community development. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.

This story was posted on August 22, 2013.