The University of Kentucky's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed that a 7-year-old Paint horse has been infected with West Nile virus (WNV). Located in Boyle County, the horse presented with mild ataxia that was more pronounced in the front limbs.
The attending veterinarian reports that the horse is responding well to treatment and has a favorable prognosis.The horse has no history of vaccination for West Nile.
West Nile causes ataxia, abnormal gait, muscle twitches, depression and potentially recumbency. The affected horse may also have a fever. An ELISA test will show if the virus is present.
There is no specific treatment for West Nile, though supportive care is commonly given in the form of anti-inflammatories, fluids and nutritional support. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends a horse be vaccinated for West Nile every 12 months, or more frequently if mosquitoes are present year-round. West Nile vaccines are extremely effective—horses that have not been vaccinated are twice as likely to die from the virus than those horses that have been vaccinated.
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