Missouri equine West Nile cases on the rise

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Aug 22, 2006
By dvm360.com staff

COLUMBIA, MO. - 8/22/06 - The number of equine West Nile virus cases as of Aug. 15, surpassed the number recorded for the entire season last year, according to Gayle Johnson, DVM, University of Missouri-Columbia (MU).

Most of the new West Nile cases in horses have occurred in the southern half of the state, but birds and mosquitoes carrying the disease have been distributed over the entire state with crows and blue jays having the highest occurrence.

More than 50 percent of the horses tested in the last month have the disease, according to an MU report. An estimated 15 percent of the state's equine population is predicted to be most susceptible this season, Johnson says.

"With the peak of the virus occurring in September, we will likely see more increases to come.

"We strongly encourage horse owners to consider immunizing or boosting their animals to prevent this potentially devastating disease," Johnson says.

In 2002, the state had 600 documented cases of West Nile, Johnson adds. An effective vaccine significantly reduced the number of diagnosed cases, with only 16 reported in 2004 and 22 in 2005.