The state veterinarian confirms that a horse in Smith County has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).
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The 22-year-old horse has been euthanized.
Mosquitoes transmit WNV and although humans can contract the virus, horses do not transmit the disease to humans or horses.
Symptoms in horses may include fever, weakness, loss of appetite, or convulsions. There is no cure for WNV, and the illness can cause lasting effects and can be fatal.
“There are actions horse owners can take to prevent WNV,” State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said. “Good preventative care includes control of mosquitoes and vaccination against WNV. Work with your veterinarian on a vaccination plan for your animals and manage the environment around your animals to deter mosquitos.”
Tips to prevent viruses include:
• Eliminate standing water sources and damp areas where insects could gather and breed.
• Manage manure and disposal.
• Keep barns clean and apply fly sprays and insect repellants as needed.
• Never share needles, dental, or surgical equipment among different animals.
The onset of neurologic symptoms is sudden and progressive, and might include a change in personality (hyperexcitability or aggression), development of muscle fasciculations (tremors), abnormal gait, incoordination of movements (ataxia) and cranial nerve abnormalities (muzzle deviation, head tilt, facial nerve paralysis, inability to swallow).
Neurologic deficits may progress to recumbency, with the horse becoming unable to stand.
The mortality rate of horses infected with WNV is high, and 30% of horses develop paralysis of at least one limb, and most horses are euthanized for humane reasons or die spontaneously. ■
A significant heavy rainfall event is forecast for the Southwest as a mid-level low and anomalously high moisture associated with a remnant tropical wave help to enhance storm development associated with an already active monsoon.