A case of West Nile virus (WNV) was recently reported in mosquitoes near Barberton, Ohio. WNV is a potentially deadly virus that causes inflammation of the brain and threatens horses, birds and humans. While the risk of horses contracting the disease is lower than it used to be, equine WNV remains dangerous and widespread – a serious threat to the health of horses throughout the country.  One out of three horses that gets sick from WNV dies or must be euthanized.

Horse owners who suspect equine WNV should watch for the following clinical signs and, if they are observed, a veterinarian should be consulted. Signs include: 

  • Stumbling
  • Lack of coordination
  • Depression
  • Limb weakness, and
  • Muscle and lip twitching.

Disease prevention, including vaccination, is vital. Used in the United States since 2004, Merial’s RECOMBITEK®  WNV is proven to work through the entire mosquito season. RECOMBITEK is a valuable tool as an aid in the prevention of disease, viremia and encephalitis caused by WNV.  For primary vaccination, horses should receive the dose followed by a second dose four to six weeks later. Annual revaccination with a single dose is recommended. 

It’s important to note that vaccinating against West Nile virus costs far less than treating the disease. In fact, treatment is 45 times more expensive than vaccination. 

Other disease prevention measures include: 

  • Decreasing a horse’s exposure to mosquitoes, which can breed in any standing water that lasts more than four days.
  • Removing all sources where water can collect.
  • Minimizing the number of lights turned on at night, especially near stables or barns.

For more information about WNV or other equine diseases, talk with your veterinarian. 

®RECOMBITEK is a registered trademark of Merial Limited. ©2012 Merial Limited, Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQUIBGN1229-F (05/12)