Yakima County in Washington state has its first confirmed diagnosis in a horse with a positive test result for the West Nile virus. The diagnosed horse was recently pastured in Outlook, Washington.
Based on a press release by the Department of Agriculture, we know the infected horse – a 7-year-old Quarter Horse gelding – has not been transported out of the area at any time recently or even some time ago, nor does he have a vaccination history.
In 2009 Washington had a reported 72 West Nile virus cases. In both 2010 and 2011, Washington had no cases reported at all. Then in 2012, one horse was diagnosed with the West Nile virus. The horse was pastured in Grandview and became so with the disease that it had to be euthanized.
At this writing, no known treatment for the West Nile virus has been developed for infected horses. Veterinarians recommend a vaccination and booster program against this mosquito-borne disease and others starting in spring.
West Nile is always spread by mosquitoes that have fed on infected vector birds. Symptoms include muscle weakness, fever and neurologic behaviors in horses. About one-third of the horses that contract West Nile will die from it.
It is important to note that it is also potentially fatal to humans. In fact, in 2009 a Sunnyside woman became a victim of West Nile.
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