The virus, which has killed 49 horses and sickened 101 others since it arrived in the United States two years ago, has spread rapidly westward fdrom New York and was confirmed for the first time in Illinois Sept.5 when two dead crows tested positive for the disease.
Birds, including crows, hawks adn blue jays, carry the virus, but it is transmitted through the bite of mosquitoes. The disease has been confirmed in humans as well as birds and horses, but many of its victims exhibit few if any signs of the illness. In severe cases, however, West Nile Virus can cause encephalitis, a potentially deadly inflammation of the brain. No clinical cases have been confirmed in livestock or poultry.
Although horses can become ill from West Nile Virus, no evidence suggests they can transmit it, either to other horses or to humans. So, infected animals do not need to be quarantined or destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease.
Th West Nile vaccine has proven to be safe and effective in clinical trails, but the trials are not complete. There are a few precautions to control musquito population and prevent horses from being exposed to the disease:
1. Dispose of old tires and other potential sources of stagnant water that can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Drill holes in the bottom of containers that are left outdoors. Clean clogged rood gutters. Turn over wheelbarrows when not in use. Frequently change water in birdbaths. Thoroughly clean livestock watering trought.
2. House animals in structures with well-maintained insect screens. Run fans to reduce the ability of mosquitoes to feed on animals.
3. Use insect repellants to decrease the exposure of animals to mosquitoes.
4. Keep animals inside at night during prime mosquito feeding hours.
5. Avoid swampy and wooded areas that are most likely to be infested with mosquitoes.
Symptoms of the West Nile virus includes: listlessness, lack of coordination, weak limbs, partial paralysis, and death.
I don't know if many of you people are familiar with the West Nile Virus, but it is nice to know what it is.