Monday, 23 July 2012

Veterinarians Promote West Nile Vaccine for Horses

The West Nile Virus is impacting the horse population, as well as humans. Horses are vulnerable to the disease, and there have been a handful of reported equine cases this summer.

Veterinarians say there is a way to protect your animal from the virus.

"We have 26,000 head of horses in Denton County, and this is a $55 million annually industry in this county," horse owner Eddie Baggs said.

Baggs is concerned about the impact the virus could have on his animals and the horse industry in Denton County.

Equine veterinarian Matt Lampe said any horse is susceptible; however, like humans, the older horses and horses with weak immune systems are more likely to contract the virus.

"Once they become infected, they get an inflamed spinal column, they lose their coordination, some are unable to rise, and death is not unheard of," Lampe said.

However, Lampe said there is a West Nile vaccine for horses, and it's 94-percent effective.

"We have almost eliminated this disease from the equine populations with the vaccination protocols," Lampe said. "If we are vaccinating your horses, you are very unlikely to see a case. If you are not, you are at the risk as the un-vaccinated people are."

Baggs said there have been four confirmed cases of the virus in horses in the North Texas region this summer. Two of the confirmed cases were in Parker County, and two were in Collin County. He said these low numbers prove the vaccine is effective.

"We are very meticulous about our health program here on the ranch to make sure the horses are taken care of and we take those preventative steps," Baggs said.

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