GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - Health officials in central Nebraska are encouraging people to protect not only themselves from West Nile virus, but their horses, too.
The Central District Health Department in Grand Island said in a recent news release that horses should be properly vaccinated for the mosquito-borne illness, The Grand Island Independent reported (http://bit.ly/1DF0WLV ) Saturday.
The department reported on July 2 its first human case of West Nile virus this year, and the virus was confirmed in recent days in mosquitoes in the area.
“Mosquito numbers are relatively low at this time due to the drier conditions,” said Nathan Eckhout, environmental health specialist with the department. “However, since there is currently WNV activity in the area, precautions should be taken.”
The department said horse owners should consult their veterinarians regarding vaccine use.
Horse vaccinations are only effective if given before exposure to West Nile. Adequate vaccination requires two doses, administered three to six weeks apart. Full protection doesn’t develop until four to six weeks after the second dose.
Sometimes a third dose is recommended, the department said. Boosters are recommended and may vary depending upon mosquito infestation in an area. It can take from seven to 12 weeks for the horse to develop maximum resistance to infection.
The most common signs of West Nile infection in horses include stumbling, weak limbs, partial paralysis, muscle twitching and, in some cases, death.