State Veterinarian Urges West Nile Virus Prevention Measures
West Nile Virus (WNV) has made something of a comeback across the United States this year and West Virginia is about to move into the riskiest time of year for horses.
Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control say 527 people have contracted the disease so far this year, but none in West Virginia.
However 116 water pools containing mosquitoes have turned up positive for WNV.
“West Nile is particularly hard on horses, so vaccination is advisable. I also recommend horses receive a booster at the end of August or early September since most of West Virginia’s cases are in the early fall,” said WVDA State Veterinarian Jewell Plumley. “Once a horse is infected, there’s really little that can be done except for supportive therapies.”
Controlling mosquitoes – which are the primary vehicle for spreading WNV – is the key to controlling the disease.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommend wearing effective insect repellent and long sleeves and pants, especially at dusk and dawn; keeping door and window screens in good repair; and eliminating standing water where mosquitoes breed.
This includes bird baths, old tires, flower pots and the ground. Especially around horse barns, any holes or ditches where water stands for an extended period should be eliminated.
Alpaca and llama owners may have better WNV vaccination options, according to research coming out of Colorado State University.
Scientists there say that equine WNV vaccines provide protection that may prevent or decrease the severity of the disease in these animals.
However, the vaccines have not been officially labeled for use in alpacas or llamas.