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Rick Worthington West Nile Virus
by Rick Worthington, click here for bio

Program: Farm and Ranch Report
Date: July 18, 2019

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West Nile Virus

As we have witnessed over the last few summers, and again this year, there is evidence that the West Nile virus is spreading.

Many more outbreaks of West Nile positive mosquitos are expected to be uncovered in the coming weeks.

Taryn Stevens, an epidemiologist, says it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness.

"Most people with West Nile virus infection don't develop any symptoms," she said. "But in those people who do develop symptoms, the most common are flu-like illness, such as a fever, headache, body ache and joint pain."

While we certainly don't want to see any human cases of West Nile virus, the virus poses the greatest threat to the health of horses in the United States. The death rate among U.S. horses ranges from 30 to 40 percent for West Nile disease.

Stevens says, folks to take precautions to reduce the risk of a mosquito bite by eliminating potential breeding grounds around the home.

"Once a week, we suggest empty, turn over, or throw out any items that might hold water," she said, "like tires, buckets, flower pots, birdbaths, anything like that - because mosquitoes actually like to lay their eggs near that stagnant water."

Vaccination remains the primary method of reducing the risk of infection in horses.

It involves an initial administration of two doses at an interval of three to six weeks, followed by an annual or semi-annual booster. It is unknown whether a horse that recovers from a West Nile virus infection can become re-infected.

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