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The Shawnee News-Star
  • West Nile virus confirmed in horse

  • One case of West Nile virus has been confirmed in a horse in Shawnee.
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  • One case of West Nile virus has been confirmed in a horse in Shawnee.
     
    Dr. Chris Bellinger of Shawnee Animal Hospital confirmed the case.
     
    “We just want people to remember their horses can get it too,” Bellinger said. “They’re at least as susceptible as people.”
     
    There were no other confirmed cases of equine West Nile virus Tuesday in Pottawatomie County. However, there are two confirmed cases of equine West Nile virus in Oklahoma County.
     
    Signs and symptoms for horses include wandering or walking in circles, weakness or paralysis of hind limbs, hyper-excitability, head pressing, fever, or coma.
     
    In same sense that humans cannot pass the virus to humans, it is important to remember that the same is true with horses, Bellinger said.
     
    “Horses don’t give it to people,” he said. “There’s not really a risk there.”
     
    Also, horses cannot transmit the virus to other horses or cattle.
     
    To reduce the risk of a horse contracting West Nile virus, a horse-owner may consider vaccination, Bellinger said.
     
    “If they love their horses, they should probably get them vaccinated,” he said.
     
    He added that a few cases of West Nile virus are confirmed in horses every year.
     
    “It’s not anything to be terribly worried about,” Bellinger said.
     
    Other ways to reduce risk for horses including replacing their water frequently, as mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Another thing horse owners can do is reduce the number of birds around the horse by eliminating any roosting areas.
     
    Birds carry West Nile virus, and after a mosquito bites a bird, it can then be transmitted to a horse or person.
     
    Topical mosquito repellants are also available for horses.
     
    Bellinger added that while many animals can get West Nile virus, it is typically seen in horses, rather than cattle and other farm animals.
     
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