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Horse Health 101 : Horse Health Library : Illnesses & Injuries

Understanding the West Nile Virus (Encephalomyelitis)

The West Nile Virus is a virus that can result in the inflammation of a horse's brain and spinal cord causing a horse to become neurologic. The disease is relatively new to the United States with the first recognized cases in 1999 when the virus was discovered in birds from the Bronx Zoo and dead crows in the New York City area.

The disease is transmitted to horses from mosquitos that have fed on an infected bird. It is important to know that a mosquito that feeds on an infected horse however cannot transmit the disease to another horse, nor to a human. This is because the virus levels in the blood stream of an equine are too low, unlike many bird species.

Currently there is no "specific anti-viral treatment" but there is a West Nile Viruse vaccine.

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