West Nile virus is typically transmitted by the bite of certain types of infected mosquitoes. Humans and Animals alike can get the virus. Mosquitoes get infected by biting or taking in blood and through interactions with some infected wild birds. The mosquito then bites a human or animal, spreading the disease. It is a vicious cycle!

West Nile virus

The virus is an inflammation of the central nervous system as a result of being infected. Years ago, the virus was only found in Eastern Europe, Africa, and West Asia but came to the United States in August 1999.

Most recently, there has been an outbreak infecting Colorado’s horses. There is no specific treatment or cure for the disease, but there is a vaccine now available.

Horses affected with the virus

An announcement by the Colorado Department of Agriculture just this week affirms the presence of 12 cases of equine West Nile throughout the state. This is a fewer number of cases than just last year but triple the number of recorded cases from 2014. Officials warn that the animals cannot be cured once they are infected.

Treatment is, however, available to treat the symptoms of the disease when the horse is sick. Some typical symptoms of an infected horse with the disease are a weakness in the limbs, head tilting, stumbling, muscle tremors, lack of coordination, and partial paralysis.

State veterinarian Keith Roehr worries that horse owners may not be taking appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus, which is crucial for healthy horses.

An annual booster is necessary for the horse. Experts also advise horse owners to avoid breeding areas for the insects, such as stagnant water sources, using repellents, treating livestock tanks, and keep the animals inside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Dr. Roehr feels that it is not too late to vaccinate the horses. The animals are still at risk with more warm weather impending.

Horse owners should call their veterinarians as soon as symptoms surface to determine a treatment plan and stop the spread of the virus.

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