West Nile Virus discovered in W.Va. horse


CHESTER, W.Va. – West Virginia Department of Agriculture Animal Health officials have discovered West Nile Virus in a Hancock County horse.

Testing. “The owner discovered the horse was sick Aug. 20, and notified a local veterinarian,” said State Agriculture Commissioner Gus R. Douglass. “At first it was thought to be rabies and then possibly West Nile Virus. Blood was taken and sent to a laboratory in Pennsylvania for testing. The tests came back positive for West Nile.”

The unvaccinated horse was treated for the disease and is now recovering.

State veterinarian, Joe Starcher said it is important for horse owners to make sure their animals are vaccinated against West Nile and other equine encephalitic viruses.

. Vaccines “Effective vaccinations take two injections – a first injection, then a booster injection is given one month later,” Starcher said. “By the time the booster is given the threat this year will be reduced. However, getting the shots now and a booster in the spring will protect the animals at the beginning of the mosquito season next year.”

More than 15,000 cases of West Nile Virus were diagnosed this past year. Nearly one-third of these horses died or were euthanized.

Starcher said he is especially concerned about the current case since the horse is located just five miles from Mountaineer Racetrack – a horse racing facility where approximately 1,500 horses are housed.

“The threat to these animals may be significant if they haven’t been vaccinated,” Starcher said.

Learn more. For more information on West Nile Virus, contact the WVDA’s Animal Health Division at 304-558-2214 or call a local veterinarian.


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