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  • Last modified 21 days ago (Sept. 27, 2018)

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West Nile Virus case confirmed

Staff writer

A case of West Nile Virus was confirmed in a horse in Marion County in the past few weeks.

Veterinarians in Marion and Hillsboro said they had not seen any cases, but Hillsboro Veterinary Clinic said one man had talked about his horse showing WNV symptoms and had taken his horse to a clinic in Wichita.

Equine Surgery and Medicine in Wichita confirmed it had diagnosed a horse that was from the Durham area.

The disease affects the spinal column and brain. Signs of West Nile infection in horses include fever, weakness of hind limbs, impaired vision, aimless wandering, and convulsions.

Horses contract the virus exclusively from mosquitoes that previously fed on an infected bird. The virus cannot be passed from horse to horse or horse to human.

A vaccine is available that is “highly effective,” according to Kansas Department of Agriculture.

Jessica Laurin, veterinarian at Animal Health Center in Marion, has treated West Nile cases in horses in the past.

She said when cases first showed up in Kansas, there was no vaccine. The clinic provided supportive care. This included intravenous injections and anti-inflammatory medications.

Recovery is a slow process, taking three or four weeks, after which the horse is unable to work for four to six months.

“It’s important that people vaccinate their horses,” Lauren said. “The vaccine they came out with cuts down on the number of cases,” she said. “The recent cases found in Kansas were in unvaccinated horses.”

Late summer and early fall are peak times for West Nile virus. People can minimize the risk of infection by having their horses vaccinated and keeping them healthy with proper nutrition. They can reduce mosquito populations by eliminating shallow standing water and turning over unused containers.

West Nile Virus is a reportable disease in Kansas, which means veterinarians are required by law to report any confirmed cases to the state veterinarian. Cases were also reported in Lyon, Seward, Neosho, and Wichita counties.

Last modified Sept. 27, 2018

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