Horse tests positive for Virginia’s first 2017 case of West Nile Virus

WYTHE COUNTY, Va (WHSV)— The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) today announced the state’s first positive case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a horse in 2017. It is the first case since August 2015 in Virginia.

The horse, a ten-year-old Saddlebred gelding, was from Wythe County and died as a result of the disease.

Symptoms included loss of control of bodily movements and partial paralysis in the hind limbs, dazed appearance and lack of ability to stand.

The horse was euthanized because of the severity of his symptoms. It was necropsied at VDACS’ Regional Animal Health Laboratory (RAHL) in Wytheville and tested positive on June 29 at the Warrenton RAHL via a serologic test.

The positive was confirmed at the National Veterinary Service Laboratories Friday July 7. It had not been vaccinated.

Dr. Joe Garvin, head of VDACS’ Office of Laboratory Services, urges horse owners to check with their veterinarians about vaccinating their animals for WNV.

“West Nile is a mosquito-borne disease,” he said, “and we generally start seeing our first cases in August and September. The disease is usually preventable by vaccination, as is Eastern Equine Encephalitis, so many veterinarians recommend vaccination at least yearly, and in mosquito-prone areas, every six months.”

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