Mosquito season means it is time to vaccinate horses against West Nile Virus

The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) urges horse owners throughout the state to vaccinate against West Nile Virus (WNV). WNV can cause severe illness in a horse’s brain, spinal cord and nervous system.

“Vaccination is the best protection horse owners have for their animals,” Dr. JJ Goicoechea, the NDA’s state veterinarian, said. “Vaccinations, in conjunction with practices that reduce exposure to mosquitos, are very effective in protecting horses from WNV.”

Every year, the NDA monitors WNV and other diseases carried by mosquitos (also known as arboviral) very closely for the protection of public health and safety and the agriculture industry.

In addition to WNV, the Animal Disease Laboratory (ADL) at the NDA tests for two other prevalent arboviral diseases: Saint Louis Encephalitis (SLE) Virus and Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE) Virus. All three can cause severe disease and death in humans.

“WNV has been prevalent in Nevada since 2004, while SLE and WEE have been widespread in the western United States for decades.,” Laura Morrow, ADL supervisor, said. “In the laboratory, we test mosquito sample pools from across the state to survey for all three diseases.”

Mosquito season has already arrived in some parts of Nevada, and with heavy rain and snowfall earlier in the year, mosquito habitats and breeding sites with standing water are prevalent. Nevada residents should take precautions such as eliminating mosquito-breeding sites, using insect repellents and keeping horses vaccinated against WNV, SLE and WEE.

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