Posted on: 7 May 2020
If you're like most horse owners, you probably turn your equine friend out to pasture during the summer so it can graze on fresh grass — and your horse undoubtedly appreciates being able to spend time outdoors after spending most of its time in the barn during the winter months. However, warm weather isn't without its threats to equine health, and one of them is known as West Nile Virus. West Nile Virus is an infectious disease that is spread by mosquitos. The common route of transmission for horses is through a mosquito bite after the insect has bitten an infected bird. While some horses, like some people, don't show any symptoms or suffer any ill effects after being infected with the West Nile Virus, others become quite ill, and about one-third of all horses who get the disease die.
Here's how you can help protect your horse from getting West Nile Virus:
Eliminate Standing Water on Your Property
Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water and are therefore very attracted to areas where water is allowed to stagnate, so be sure to eliminate all possible standing water sources. Keep in mind that even a small dish or bucket with an inch or two of rainwater inside it can be attractive to mosquitos if the water is left to stagnate. It's particularly important to change the water in your horse's drinking trough at least once per day to prevent the water from becoming stagnant and attracting mosquitos seeking a place to lay their eggs.
Keep Horses in the Barn at Dawn and Dusk
Mosquitos are most active during dawn and again at dusk, so keep your horse in the barn during these times to minimize exposure to these insects. Barns can get pretty hot during the summer months, so install screens on doors and windows to ensure proper airflow.
Learn to Recognize the Signs of West Nile Virus
Symptoms of West Nile Virus in horses include lethargy, weakness of the back legs, profuse sweating for no apparent reason, confusion, lack of coordination, stumbling, inability to rise when fallen, refusal to eat, teeth grinding, overexcitability, and muscle spasms. If you have reason to believe that your horse has caught the West Nile Virus, call your local animal hospital immediately.
The chances of your horse making a full recovery from this disease highly depends on how quickly the animal receives medical attention.Share