July 17, 2013 -- West Nile virus (WNV) remains a threat to horses. But with the right vaccine and preventive measures, horse owners have time to help protect their horses against this life-threatening disease.
West Nile encephalomyelitis is an inflammation of the central nervous system that is caused by an infection with WNV. It is transmitted by mosquitoes--which feed on infected birds or other animals--to horses, humans and other mammals.
Horses in Texas and Ohio have tested positive for WNV, the first equine cases reported in the U.S. this year. In 2012, when 690 cases were reported nationwide, only eight states (Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia) had no reports of equine WNV.
Vaccination remains the most effective way to help protect horses against West Nile and other encephalic (of or relating to the brain) or mosquito-borne diseases, such as Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) and Western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE). Already this year, 14 cases of Eastern equine encephalomyelitis have been reported.
WEST NILE-INNOVATOR + EWT is a trusted vaccine from Zoetis that offers demonstrated protection against West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalomyelitis, Western equine encephalomyelitis and tetanus--all in a single vaccine.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners includes West Nile among diseases requiring core vaccinations, along with vaccinations against Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, tetanus and rabies. Conveniently, Zoetis offers four combinations to fit any vaccination protocol: WEST NILE-INNOVATOR, WEST NILE-INNOVATOR + EW, WEST NILE-INNOVATOR + EWT and WEST NILE-INNOVATOR + VEWT. Ask your veterinarian about the right combination for your horse.
In conjunction with vaccination, use good techniques for managing mosquitoes. This includes:
- Destroying any mosquito breeding habitats by removing all potential sources of stagnant water.
- Cleaning and emptying any water-holding container, such as water buckets, water troughs and plastic containers, on a weekly basis5
Remember that WNV does not always prompt signs of illness. Horses that do become clinically ill from the virus can suffer a loss of appetite and depression due to an infection of the central nervous system. Other clinical signs may include fever, weakness or paralysis of hind limbs, impaired vision, ataxia, aimless wandering, walking in circles, hyper-excitability or coma.
Horse owners should contact a veterinarian immediately if they notice signs or symptoms of WNV infection in their horses, especially ones exhibiting neurological signs. The case fatality rate for horses exhibiting clinical signs of WNV infection is about 33%.
No matter the location, horses are at risk. By providing proper vaccination and helping to manage mosquito populations, horse owners can do their part to help prevent WNV infections. Find out more by contacting your Zoetis representative, and visit westnileinnovator.com.
Zoetis (zo-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting customers and businesses focused on raising and caring for livestock and companion animals. Building on a 60-year history as the animal health business of Pfizer Inc., Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. The company has more than 9,300 employees worldwide and a local presence in approximately 70 countries, including 29 manufacturing facilities in 11 countries. Its products serve veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for livestock and companion animals in 120 countries. For more information visit www.zoetisUS.com.