The Washington state Department of Agriculture is warning horse owners across the region to vaccinate against West Nile. This is typically the time of year when mosquito populations start to explode thanks to the combination of standing water from spring rains and increasing temperatures. WSDA’s eastern regional field veterinarian, Dr. Ben Smith said the vaccination process is incredibly easy. It starts with two vaccinations initially, given three to four weeks apart, and then after that, then an annual booster.
“And it’s very, very protective, I’d say better than 95% protective. Horses that we see have issues, have either not been vaccinated, or they are under vaccinated, they haven’t had enough boosters to really cover their immune systems.”
Dr. Smith said the symptoms range from mild to very severe.
“Colicy outbreak, or just acting odd, or they can actually get paralyzed and go down, and those horses are a lot of times end up being euthanized. Because once a horse goes down, it’s really difficult to take care of them.”
Smith noted that West Nile is a dead-end disease the impacts horses, but not other livestock. However, West Nile is a disease humans can contract, from mosquitos, so Dr. Smith recommends removing standing water, and use a quality bug spray when out in the field.
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