West Nile Virus: Still A Threat

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With all the reports and quarantines for Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) this winter, it's easy to forget about West Nile Virus (WNV) and the threat it poses to horses. As the sun climbs higher in the sky, the mosquito season draws closer, and some cases have already been reported this year.

The first case of equine West Nile in 2007 was reported in Sonoma County, Calif., in February - much earlier than recent years - and at least six counties in California have already reported West Nile virus activity. Unseasonably warm winter weather, which has been experienced in many parts of the country, may lead to an increased threat of West Nile virus, which is considered endemic in all areas of the country and poses a major health threat to humans, horses and other animals.

"Because it isn't headline news anymore and because it's been around for several years, many horse owners believe West Nile virus is no longer a threat to their horses," says Tom Lenz, DVM, Vice President of Professional Services at Fort Dodge Animal Health, which manufactures the WNV vaccine West Nile-Innovator(R). "This is not true. More than 1,000 horses were diagnosed with the disease last year, with some states reporting more than 50 cases. It is still a serious equine health issue and all horses should be vaccinated."

West Nile Virus had its day on the front page, that's for sure. This year it's EHV and bird flu. And next year? Stay tuned; this blog may come in handy!