Eleven horses in Colorado have been diagnosed with West Nile virus.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture said the horses are in Alamosa, Boulder, Broomfield, Conejos, Fremont, Jefferson, Larimer, Park, and Weld counties.
West Nile virus is carried by infected birds, then spread by mosquitoes that bite the birds. The mosquitoes then pass the virus to people and animals.
Officials said horses can’t pass the virus to humans, but they can be severely affected by the symptoms.
Human cases of West Nile have been reported this year in Pueblo and Mesa counties.
The department offered the following tips for horse owners:
- Mitigate the mosquito populations and possible mosquito breeding areas on your property.
- Take precautions to develop methods to repel mosquitoes from biting your horse.
- Contact a veterinarian if horses exhibit clinical signs consistent with WNV so that a proper diagnosis can be obtained – clinical signs include head tilt, muscle tremors, lack of coordination, weakness of the limbs or partial paralysis.
- Be aware that clinical signs of WNV are consistent with other important neurological diseases such as equine encephalitis, rabies, and equine herpes virus so work with your veterinarian to get an accurate diagnosis through laboratory testing.
- Consult a veterinarian on appropriate prevention strategies.
- Vaccinate your horses for WNV as it is a very effective prevention tool.
- Protect yourself by using appropriate WNV preventive activities suggested by public health experts.