The West Nile Virus attacks a horse’s nervous system. Once the central nervous system has been compromised a horse will show signs of being neurological. A horse my stumble, become disoriented, drag its toes, swing it hind legs out to the sides as it walks, become weak in the hind, or have the inability to stand.
A horse is infected with West Nile Virus after being bitten by a virus carrying mosquito. This is the only way the virus is transmitted to horses. It cannot be transmitted from horse to horse, or from human to horse. As summer is the peak season for mosquitoes we recommend having the West Nile vaccine administer in spring. If a horse has never received a vaccination for West Nile Virus it is recommended that a booster be give 3-4 weeks after the initial inoculation.
While the disease is a threat to horses and has been found in our area, there is hope. The West Nile Virus vaccination has a very high success rate. In fact, the few horses in our area that have been diagnosed with West Nile Virus were all horses that had not been vaccinated. The vaccination is the best defense to protect your horse.