With two more western horses found infected with West Nile virus, animal owners are alerted to take e extra steps to protect their equine friends.
The new finds are in Colorado and are the first such finds in the state this year. Both horses have been treated, reports the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
West Nile virus is a disease that threatens not only horses, but their owners and other animals, so taking precautions to prevent the malady is in the great interest of equestrians.
"Late summer and early fall have traditionally been the time of the year when we are most likely to see WNV cases reported in horse," says Keith Roehr, Colorado state veterinarian. "In the past few years there have been very few reported equine cases of WNV in Colorado; it is difficult to project how many WNV cases we may see in the coming months."
Transmission of WNV varies from year to year, he notes. Mosquitoes are known as common vectors, and the virus can also be carried by birds.
Infected horses may display symptoms including heads tilt, muscle tremors, stumbling, lack of coordination, weakness of limbs or partial paralysis.
If horses show clinical signs consistent with the disorder, Roehr says it is very important for owners to contact veterinarians to confirm the diagnosis through lab testing. Owners should consult their vets to determine an appropriate strategy of prevention of WNV, he urges.
Reducing the mosquito population is perhaps the most common way of fighting against WNV, he says. Recommendation include removal of stagnant water sources, keeping animals inside during the mosquito feeding periods in mornings and evenings, and using insect repellents.
But vaccinations are an important tool as well, and have proven to be very effective, he says.
Remember that annual booster shots are necessary . If an owner did not vaccinate animals in previous years, the horses will need a two-shot vaccine series within three to six weeks.