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Western Wisconsin horse tests positive for West Nile Virus

Humans can be infected by West Nile Virus, but the virus does not pass directly between people and horses.
MURPHY GAINES
Posted at 4:30 PM, Aug 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-29 17:30:13-04

TREMPEALEAU COUNTY, Wis. — A horse in Western Wisconsin tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV), the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced Monday.

DATCP says an unvaccinated yearling Standardbred gelding in Trempealeau County marks the state's first confirmed case of WNV in a horse this year.

The disease can cause brain inflammation in horses and people. It is fatal in 30% to 40% of horses that show symptoms. Symptoms of WNV in horses include fever, incoordination, hind-end weakness, depression, loss of appetite, muscle tremors, teeth grinding, inability to swallow, head pressing, excessive sweating, and going down with an inability to rise, DATCP says.

Humans can be infected by WNV, but the virus does not pass directly between people and horses. DATCP says the only route of transmission is from a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes transmit the virus from birds. Birds are natural reservoirs for WNV.

The threat of WNV normally occurs from mid-to-late summer when mosquitoes are the most active until the first killing frost.

DATCP is encouraging equine owners to speak to their veterinarians about vaccinating their horses for WNV. The American Association of Equine Practitioners is also recommending vaccinations for both WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

For more information on WNV and tips for minimizing mosquito exposure, visit DATCP's website.

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