West Nile Virus in Horses

West Nile VirusThere has been much in the equine press recently about new diseases which, as a result of global warming and increased movement of horses over long distances, are a threat to our equine population. West Nile Virus (WNV) is one such disease that has become endemic within America, Italy and some parts of Hungary. The disease usually cycles between mosquitoes and birds, but occasionally an infected mosquito will bite a human or horse and cause them to be infected.

Approximately 10% of horses infected with WNV develop signs associated with encephalitis which may include dullness, inco-ordination, head pressing, seizures, difficulty eating, circling and in some cases death. Although not currently reported in the UK, birds carrying the disease have been identified and horses traveling abroad for competition are at increased risk.

A new vaccine has recently become available for vaccination of equines against WNV, it requires two injections 3-5 weeks apart and then yearly boosters. If your horse is traveling abroad it may be appropriate to protect against this disease, please contact us if you have any queries.