The first case of equine West Nile virus this year was confirmed in an Owyhee County horse. The horse is undergoing veterinary treatment, Idaho State Department of Agriculture reported.
The most common signs of WNV in horses are fever and weakness, usually in the hindquarters which is sometimes seen as a widened stance, stumbling, leaning to one side and toe dragging, the agency said in a press release.
Mental conditions such as fearfulness, lip-smacking, chewing movements and fine muscle tremors may be noticed. In extreme cases of infection, paralysis and inability to stand could follow.
West Nile is most commonly spread to people and horses through the bite of an infected mosquito. ISDA recommends two essential protections for equines and small camelids: vaccination and physical precautions.
“The WNV vaccination remains a very important preventive measure,” Bill Barton, Idaho state veterinarian, said.
Nearly 98 percent of horses that test positive for WNV have never been adequately vaccinated. Horses that have been vaccinated in previous years need boosters; a one-time vaccination is not enough, he said.
Physical WNV precautions include using fans and repellants to keep mosquitoes away from equines. Additionally, horse owners should remove standing water on or near their property whenever possible.
Additional information about the virus and a map of known affected counties is available on the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s website: www.westnile.idaho.gov.