SPARKS, Nev. — With mosquito season around the corner, the Nevada Department of Agriculture is advising horse owners to contact their veterinarians and update their animals’ West Nile Virus vaccinations.
West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, which are active in warm seasons. Since 2004, there have been 205 confirmed cases in Nevada of the virus in horses.
The virus causes encephalitis in horses, resulting in loss of appetite, depression, fever, lack of coordination, hind limb weakness, muscle twitching, convulsions and the inability to swallow. Approximately one-third of unvaccinated horses, which contract the disease, dies or must be euthanized
“The vaccine is very effective in preventing disease,” said Dr. Michael Greenlee, Nevada’s state veterinarian. “We encourage horse owners to vaccinate their animals to ensure their health and well-being.”
Owners should eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites, such as old tires and other small containers that can collect water. They should also keep horses inside during the peak mosquito activity period of dusk to dawn and avoid the use of lights that may attract mosquitoes. Use of EPA approved repellents will provide another layer of protection for their animals.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.