Protecting Horses Against West Nile Virus


Since 1999, more than 25,000 cases of West Nile Virus encephalitis have been reported in horses, according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners. “When you talk about West Nile Virus, you’re talking about the Culex mosquito,” says Dr. Justin Talley, Department Head for Entomology and Plant Pathology at Oklahoma State University. “The biggest challenge is that in addition to feeding on horses, they also feed on birds, which is why they’re good at transmitting the virus into horses.” The number of cases is difficult to predict every year and will vary based on bird populations. You will see more mosquitoes in late summer or the fall, so the chances can improve greatly from the summer. Moving air plays a big part in mosquito control. “Get the air moving around horses because mosquitoes are weak fliers,” Talley says. “Don’t forget vaccinations and good barn keeping. Remove standing water and clean a horse’s water trough.”