Horses see rise in WNV cases
West Nile Virus (WNV) has moved across the entire state of Alabama during the past few years and cases are increasing this year, according to Dr. Tony Frazier, Alabama State Veterinarian.
According to Frazier, so far this year, there have been 12 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Alabama horses. These cases were reported from Autauga County (2), Baldwin County (3), Colbert County (1), Escambia (1), Geneva County (1), and Mobile County (4).
WNV is one of the fastest growing health threats to horses, according to Frazier.
Since its discovery in 1999, this mosquito-borne disease has virus has spread quickly throughout the United States. Infected mosquitoes are the primary source for West Nile virus. Many expect WNV will soon become a threat to horses coast to coast.
The virus causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Although the vast majority of infections have been identified in birds, WNV has been shown to infect horses, cats, bats, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels and domestic rabbits. These animals are not, however, a source of infection for people and other animals.
It is recommended that animals be vaccinated in certain periods of the year so that the titers can be established and vaccinated again during the mosquito season.
Any questions regarding suspected symptoms in horses should be directed to local veterinarians, Frazier said.