West Nile Virus [IMPORTANT!]

This virus has come to my attention due to the fact that one of the horses in our stables has the symptoms for West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus (WNV) causes an inflammation of the central nervous system. Both humans and animals can get infected from a mosquito that is carrying the virus. WNV occurs mostly in the late summer or early autumn.


SYMPTOMS

Those infected may show zero signs of illness, however, if the virus reaches the central nervous system, it can cause encephalitis (brain swelling). For horses, the symptoms can take 5-15 days to show, which include the following:

  • loss of appetite
  • depression
  • fever
  • weakness of hind limbs
  • paralysis of hind limbs
  • impaired vision
  • ataxia (weakness)
  • head pressing
  • aimless wandering
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • inability to swallow
  • walking in circles
  • hyperexcitability
  • coma

TREATMENT

There is no specific antibody to counter attack the virus, therefore, depending on the affect the virus has on each individual horse, a treatment plan should be developed.

  • Control fever if present.
  • Ensure horse receives sufficient fluids and feed. Oral or intravenous feeding may also be necessary for horses unable to eat.
  • If mobility is compromised, slinging is recommended 2 to 3 times per day to aid in circulation and to try to prevent pressure point sores (bed sores).
  • If horse keeps collapsing, head and leg protection will be necessary.
  • Treating secondary events if noticed. These may include joint and tendon infections, sheath infections, pneumonia, and diarrhea, all due to overall weakness and lack of mobility.

Horses can improve within 5 to 7 days after showing sings of the virus, however, 20-30% can show severe neurological deficits for a few weeks. Moreover, mortality rate is around 33%, whereas full recover is around 50%, and relapse or incomplete recover is around 17%.


PREVENTION

There is a vaccination that requires two doses, given 3-6 weeks apart. That being said, the protection will not develop until around 4-6 weeks after the second dose.
Note: 36 hours rest post vaccination for horses

Try and keep the stables clean and free from mosquito breeding habitats which include tires, wheelbarrows, old buckets, etc.),. Roof and gutters should also be cleaned constantly.

  • Keep horses indoors during active mosquito times (dawn/dusk)
  • Use fans
  • Use flysheets
  • Flyspray
  • Insecticide mist
  • Turn off lights that attract mosquitoes at night, or use fluorescent lights, which do not attract mosquitoes.
  • Keep an eye out for dead birds around the stables

It is very crucial to get your horse vaccinated, of if they are, continue to give them boosters when necessary.

Keep safe! Hope this helps