In an announcement from the state veterinarian's office on October 4, two more Kentucky horses have contracted West Nile virus (WNV). With these two new cases, there are now seven positive horse test results in Kentucky.
One of the horses was a gelding stabled in Grave County. He became ill with symptoms at the end of September, presenting with rear quarter incoordination. The horse has no vaccination history for WNV. As of October 4, the gelding remained in serious condition and everything was being done to save him.
The second horse was a Rocky Mountain mare, seven years old. She came down with symptoms on September 30 of hypersensitivity to touch and inability to rise to her feet. She was euthanized. The mare had not been vaccinated for WNV.
The two new horse cases bring the total of West Nile virus to seven. Of these WNV-positive horses, all are still alive and slowly recovering with the exception of the Rocky Mountain mare that was put down.
West Nile virus has been confirmed in Calloway, Christian, Edmonson, Graves, Hopkins, Lincoln, and Todd counties. Testing for West Nile virus has been done by Murray State University's Breathitt Veterinary Center and the University of Kentucky's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Symptoms of West Nile virus – a viral disease transmitted to horses by infected mosquitoes – start out as flu-like and the horse becomes depressed, muscles and skin may twitch, and the horse is increasingly sensitive to touch and sound. Some horses appear “out of it” or trance-like, may be drowsy and walk around aimlessly or push into an object. Horses have a mortality rate of around 30 to 40 percent.
The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported 627 cases of WNV in U.S. horses in 2012; 13 cases were reported last year in Kentucky.
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