By Erica Larson
The Kentucky State Veterinarian’s office has announced that a horse from Bourbon County has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). This is the first equine WNV case confirmed in the commonwealth this year.
In a statement Kentucky Equine Programs manager E.S. “Rusty” Ford said the case was confirmed June 13.
The yearling Thoroughbred filly first showed signs of disease on June 7. She was initially down, but able to rise with assistance; she also suffered muscle fasciculation (twitching) and seizures. By June 7 her condition had improved, and on June 13 the attending veterinarian reported the filly continued to show daily improvement.
Ford’s statement indicated that the filly had been vaccinated against WNV in 2016 and had received a booster on June 1.
West Nile is transmitted to horses via bites from infected mosquitoes. Clinical signs for WNV include flulike signs, where the horse seems mildly anorexic and depressed; fine and coarse muscle and skin fasciculation; hyperesthesia (hypersensitivity to touch and sound); changes in mentation (mentality), when horses look like they are daydreaming or “just not with it”; occasional somnolence (drowsiness); propulsive walking (driving or pushing forward, often without control); and “spinal” signs, including asymmetrical weakness. Some horses show asymmetrical or symmetrical ataxia. Equine mortality rate can be as high as 30-40%.
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