State Vet Confirms First Equine West Nile Virus Case of 2021

A horse in Weld County has been diagnosed with West Nile Virus.
A horse in Weld County has been diagnosed with West Nile Virus.(KKCO/KJCT)
Published: Jul. 31, 2021 at 6:34 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -Colorado has its first confirmed equine West Nile Virus case this year after a horse in Weld County is diagnosed with the virus.

The horse had not been vaccinated against West Nile Virus and developed acute neurological signs on July 24 and is recovering.

“Vaccines have shown to be an effective prevention tool for West Nile Virus in horses and Horse owners should work with their veterinarian to determine the appropriate vaccination schedule for their horses,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Maggie Baldwin. “West Nile Virus is one of the AAEP core vaccinations for horses, along with others such as rabies, tetanus, and eastern and western encephalomyelitis. All of these vaccines are important to protect the health of Colorado’s equine herds.”

Horses vaccinated for West Nile Virus in past years will need an annual booster. If a horse has not been vaccinated in previous years it will need the two-shot vaccination series.

To help prevent more West Nile Virus cases, horse owners can work to reduce mosquito populations and their possible breeding areas where there are horses. Owners can do this by removing stagnant water sources, using mosquito repellents and keeping animals inside during the bugs’ feeding times, which are typically early in the morning and evening.

West Nile Virus is a viral disease that cycles between wild birds and mosquitos, and can sometimes affect other species. Anorexia, depression, and neurological signs, which may include ataxia, weakness or paralysis of one or more limbs, teeth grinding, aimless wandering, convulsions and/or circling are signs of clinical cases in horses.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has not reported any human cases of West Nile Virus to date in 2021. However, mosquito pools from Weld, Larimer, and Boulder counties have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has published data on human West Nile cases, as well as positive mosquito pools, available on the CDPHE WNV website.

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