|Don't Risk a Case of West Nile Virus|
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
April Knudson, DVM, is an Equine Specialist with Merial Veterinary Services. She has a special interest in sport horse lameness and internal medicine. She holds a doctor of veterinary medicine from the University of California-Davis. Below, she answers a question about the risk of West Nile Virus.
Question: I haven’t heard much about West Nile Virus lately. Should I still be vaccinating for it?
Answer: West Nile is a potentially deadly virus that causes encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. Transmitted by mosquitoes, the disease threatens horses, birds and humans. Since first being reported in the United States in 1999, more than 24,000 horses have been diagnosed with West Nile virus. Although the risk of getting the disease is lower now than it used to be, most likely due to the increase in vaccinated horses and naturally acquired immunity, West Nile virus continues to be a threat to horses.
Because there is no known treatment for the disease and one out of three horses that gets sick from West Nile virus dies or must be euthanized, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) continues to recommend vaccination. All horses should be revaccinated annually. RECOMBITEK® Equine WNV vaccine from Merial offers protection2 against West Nile and is available through your veterinarian.
In addition to vaccinating, you can help reduce your horse’s chance of contracting WNV by limiting his exposure to mosquitoes. Because mosquitoes can breed in any standing water that lasts more than four days, consider adding these steps to your barn cleanup chores:
• Turn over wheelbarrows, water buckets and wading pools when not in use.
• Thoroughly clean livestock-watering troughs and buckets regularly.
• Remove any potential mosquito breeding areas, such as trash can lids, pots, discarded tires, etc.
• Drill holes in the bottom of containers left outside.
• Do not allow water to stagnate in birdbaths.
• Clean clogged roof gutters on an annual basis.
While the best way to help prevent equine diseases like West Nile virus is to vaccinate, horse owners can also take advantage of Merial’s new free “Outbreak Alert” program, which will tell them about the presence of confirmed equine disease in their area. Those who sign up at www.outbreak-alert.com will receive text and/or e-mail notification of disease threats within a 250-mile radius of any ZIP code provided. The site also includes maps showing the presence of disease throughout the country and general information about equine diseases.
RECOMBITEK Equine WNV vaccines are made with a technology that allows the vaccine to stimulate a fast, strong immune response in your horse. RECOMBITEK rWNV-EWT is the only combination vaccine that uses advanced technology to help provide convenient protection against West Nile virus, while also helping to protect against Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE) and tetanus.
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,600 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2010 sales were more than $2.6 billion. Merial is a Sanofi company.
For more information, please see www.merial.com.