Thursday, September 23, 2010

Horse Clinically Diagnosed With West Nile Virus

Mountain Mail Reports

An eight-year-old mare in Magdalena was clinically diagnosed with West Nile virus and had to be euthanized in August, according to equine veterinarian Dr. Marvin Bowman, who practices in Belen.
“I have seen a bunch of these cases throughout the years but not this year,” Bowman said. “This is the first one.”
Bowman, who is unaware of any other cases this year, said the mare exhibited all the signs of West Nile Virus.
“She had been observed by another vet and I am guessing she exhibited some colic symptoms,” Bowman said. “When I saw her, she had some definite spinal cord problems and it really affected her rear quarters like it does in other West Nile cases. This mare had no history of injury.”
Bowman advises all horse owners to vaccinate their animals on a regular basis.
“The vaccine is very good,” Bowman said. “It’s the reason why we see so few cases.”
The West Nile Virus is caused by mosquitoes.
According to the Pennsylvania West Nile Control program website, infection with West Nile Virus does not always lead to signs of illness in people or animals. Horses appear to be a species that is susceptible to infection with the virus. In horses that do become clinically ill, the virus infects the central nervous system and may cause symptoms of encephalitis. Clinical signs of encephalitis in horses may include a general loss of appetite and depression, in addition to any combination of the following signs: fever, weakness of hind limbs, paralysis of hind limbs, impaired vision, ataxia (weakness), head pressing, aimless wandering, convulsions (seizures), inability to swallow, walking in circles, hyperexcitability and coma.
There also have been two cases in humans in New Mexico this year.
According to the Center for Disesase Control website:
• About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
• Milder Symptoms in Some People. Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days.
• No Symptoms in Most People. Approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.

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