Fall is quickly arriving in many parts of the country, but even here in Wyoming where the weather forecast is calling for snow, they are still reporting new equine cases of West Nile virus and advising horse owners to vaccinate. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 173 veterinary cases of West Nile virus positively identified in the United States this year. There have been 1,134 human cases reported. Forty-two states have reported positive mosquitoes, the primary carrier of West Nile virus.
All of this information leads us to believe that there have been many more equine (and probably human) cases than have been tested and reported.
While there is not a vaccine to protect humans, there is a vaccine to protect horses. West Nile virus is considered one of the “core” vaccinations recommend by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. The AAEP has an informational page about West Nile virus that is free to horse owners and managers.
You can look up this 2013 WNV information for humans by county.
You can look up this 2013 information for veterinary reports by county.
You can also view bird, mosquito, and sentinel cases by county from links found on those two pages.
In 2012 there were 2,873 reported neuroinvasive human cases, 2,801 non-neuroinvasive cases, and 286 deaths.
Just because it is fall, don't dismiss the potential of West Nile virus in your horses or yourself. To help avoid West Nile virus, follow these steps:
- Vaccinate horses annually.
- Remove standing water around the farm and stable.
- Dump and clean water tanks every week.
- Mow weeds, especially around barns, paddocks and arenas.
- Spray your property if mosquitoes are present.
- Use mosquito repellent on humans and horses.
- Avoid dawn and dusk, times of heavy mosquito activity.
- Use fans in barns to keep mosquitoes at bay.