Time to vaccinate horses against West Nile virus
State officials are urging horse owners to vaccinate their animals against West Nile virus.
While severe symptoms are relatively rare in humans, the virus can cause severe illness in a horse’s brain, spinal cord and nervous system.
“Vaccination is the best protection horse owners have for their animals,” Dr. JJ Goicoechea, the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s state veterinarian, said. “Vaccinations, in conjunction with practices that reduce exposure to mosquitos, are very effective in protecting horses from WNV.”
The first human case of the virus was recently reported in Southern Nevada.
Every year, the department monitors West Nile virus and other diseases carried by mosquitoes (also known as arboviral) closely for the protection of public health and safety and the agriculture industry.
The department’s Animal Disease Laboratory also tests for two other prevalent arboviral diseases: Saint Louis Encephalitis Virus and Western Equine Encephalitis Virus. All three can cause severe disease and death in humans.
West Nile Virus has been prevalent in Nevada since 2004 while Saint Louis Encephalitis and Western Equine Encephalitis have been widespread in the western United States for decades.
Mosquito season is well underway, and with heavy rain and snowfall earlier in the year, mosquito habitats and breeding sites with standing water are abundant. All Nevada residents should take precautions such as eliminating mosquito breeding sites around houses and barns, using insect repellents to fight the bite and keeping horses vaccinated against WNV and Western Equine Encephalitis.