Ohio horse euthanized after testing positive for West Nile Virus

FILE (Associated Press)
FILE (Associated Press)

REYNOLDSBURG, OH (WCMH) — The Ohio Department of Agriculture confirms the first positive case of West Nile Virus in an Ohio horse in 2016.

The Department of Agriculture said samples taken from a seven-year-old standardbred in Tuscarawas County confirmed the positive diagnosis on September 12. The horse was first seen by a veterinarian on August 29.

Officials said the horse was euthanized after exhibiting significant clinical signs, including shaking, agitation and thrashing. The horse was not vaccinated.

West Nile Virus is transmitted to horses through mosquito bites.

Clinical signs for WNV include flulike symptoms, where the horse seems mildly anorexic and depressed. Changes in mentality, drowsiness, driving or pushing forward (often without control) and asymmetrical weakness may be observed. Mortality rate from WNV can be as high as 30-40 percent in horses.

“This incident in Tuscarawas County should serve as an alert to all horse owners to vaccinate their animals against West Nile Virus,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey. “Vaccines are a proven and effective prevention tool and I encourage all owners to talk to their local vet for options and advice on how to keep their animals healthy.”

In addition to vaccinations, ODA said horse owners also should work to reduce the mosquito population and eliminate possible breeding areas.
Recommendations include:

  • Removing stagnant water sources
  • Keeping animals inside during the bugs’ feeding times, which are typically early in the morning and evening
  • Using mosquito repellents.

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