First West Nile case confirmed in Colorado

RBC | Rio Blanco County’s first confirmed case of West Nile Virus was announced Tuesday with the word that a horse located along County Road 7 (Strawberry) had died following a bout with the virus.
West Nile Virus is commonly carried by infected birds, which then are bitten by mosquitoes, which transmit the virus to the horses.
Ranchers are urged to rid their property of stagnant pools of water, which are the most-common breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
KCNC-TV, Channel 4 in Denver, announced Wednesday that there were 46 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Colorado but that it was not known how many of the cases involved fatalities.
Special to the Herald Times
The first reported equine case of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been diagnosed in Colorado as of Aug. 14, in a three-month-old colt from Montezuma County.
“West Nile Virus is a disease that threatens the health of humans, horses and other animals. This is the time of year when we are most likely to see it reported in horses,” said Colorado State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. “It is difficult to project how many cases we may see in the coming months.”
The transmission of the disease varies from year to year and depends on a number of factors including mosquito numbers. The WNV can be carried by infected birds and then spread locally by mosquitoes that bite those birds. The mosquitoes can then pass the virus to humans and animals.
Infected horses may display symptoms including head tilt, muscle tremors, stumbling, lack of coordination, weakness of the limbs or partial paralysis, Roehr said. The clinical signs of WNV are consistent with other important neurological diseases such as equine encephalitis, rabies and equine herpes virus; therefore it is important to work with your veterinarian to get an accurate diagnosis through laboratory testing. Horse owners should also consult their private practicing veterinarian to determine an appropriate disease prevention plan for their horses.
Vaccines have proven to be a very effective prevention tool. Horses that have been vaccinated in past years will need an annual booster shot. However, if an owner did not vaccinate their animal in previous years, the horse will need the two-shot vaccination series within a three- to six-week period.
In addition to vaccinations, horse owners also need to reduce the mosquito populations and their possible breeding areas.