Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sacramento - The risk of a return of West Nile virus to California

SACRAMENTO – The risk of a return of West Nile virus to California
this year is renewing calls for horse owners to make sure their
animals are vaccinated.

In 2011, 15 horses in California were confirmed positive for West Nile
Virus. Four of the 15 were euthanized. All of the euthanized horses
were not vaccinated

“Outbreaks of West Nile virus are still a risk for horses,” said
California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Whiteford. “Horse owners
should contact their veterinarians as soon as possible to ensure
vaccination status is current. If people get the necessary shots for
their horses now, the animals will have optimal protection against the

Signs of West Nile virus include stumbling, staggering, wobbling,
weakness, muscle twitching and inability to stand. Horses contract the
disease from carrier mosquitoes and are not contagious to other horses
or people. Affected horses have experienced a mortality rate of nearly
40 percent.

CDFA is cooperating with the California Department of Public Health to
detect and respond to the disease in California. Horses provide an
additional sentinel for disease detection in the environment. For more
information, click on

Outbreak Alert – WNV

On 5/3/2012, a case of West Nile virus (WNV) was reported in Bird near
Sacramento, California. WNV is a potentially deadly virus that causes
inflammation of the brain and threatens horses, birds and humans.1
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. 1 One out of three
horses that gets sick from WNV dies or must be euthanized.2

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:
Lack of coordination
Limb weakness, and
Muscle and lip twitching.

Horse owners are advised to keep their horses’ west Nile vaccination
status current.

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