Three Western Nevada horses have West Nile Virus |

Three Western Nevada horses have West Nile Virus

Staff Reports

Three Western Nevada horses have tested positive for West Nile virus over the past two weeks, the Nevada Department of Agriculture confirmed Thursday.

None of the horses was vaccinated against the disease. 

“Vaccination is the best protection horse owners have for their animals,” State Veterinarian Dr. JJ Goicoechea said. “With the increased numbers of mosquitoes this year, it’s important all horse owners take this precaution to prevent the spread of disease.”

Arboviral diseases like West Nile are transmitted to humans primarily through the bites of infected mosquito, ticks, sand flies or midges. Every year, the state closely monitors several arboviral diseases to protect public health and safety and the agriculture industry. In addition to West Nile, the Animal Disease Laboratory  tests for two other prevalent arboviral diseases: Saint Louis encephalitis virus and Western equine encephalitis virus. Although these diseases cannot be transmitted from a horse, all three can cause severe illness and death both in horses and humans.

“Vaccinations, in conjunction with practices that reduce exposure to mosquito, are very effective in protecting horses from WNV,” Goicoechea said. “It’s not too late to prevent the spread of disease.”

West Nile has been prevalent in Nevada since 2004 while the other two diseases have been widespread in the Western United States for decades. Since the Aedes aegypti mosquito has been found in Southern Nevada this year, the laboratory also monitors and tests for Zika Virus.

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 these three diseases.