Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Department of agriculture warns horse owners to vaccinate against West Nile

(File photo/WYDaily)
(File photo/WYDaily)

Temperatures are warming up and the sun is shining stronger, meaning summer is on the way.

But the changing season also means something else: Mosquitos.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is asking horse owners to vaccinate their horses against mosquito-borne illnesses, including the West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Last year, there was only one case of confirmed West Nile Virus in a Virginia horse, and no cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, according to a Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services news release.

Horse owners can check with their veterinarian for advice on vaccinations, the release said.

“Both the WNV and EEE vaccine are highly effective in minimizing disease, if given appropriately,” said Dr. Charles Broaddus, State Veterinarian at VDACS, “and that could be the reason we saw so few cases last year. Without vaccination, we would see many more infected horses. In most cases, private veterinarians will recommend them for their clients.”

The mortality rate for West Nile Virus is 30 percent, and up to 90 percent for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, the release said. Horses cannot pass the viruses directly to one another, and humans cannot catch them from handling horses.

Beyond vaccinating horses, owners can also prevent the spread of these diseases by dumping or draining standing water on their properties where mosquitos could breed, using mosquito repellent, keeping horses inside between dusk and dawn and turning lights out in the horse barn at night.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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