Cold Lake Veterinary Clinic

5404 55th Street
Cold Lake, AB T9M 1R5

(780)594-5212

coldlakevetclinic.ca

West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus (WNV) causes encephalitis in birds, horses and humans.  The virus is transmitted from infected birds by mosquitoes.  Humans and horses appear to be especially susceptible.  Studies done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that infected horses will not transmit WNV to other horses or to people.  However care should be taken when handling blood from suspect animals.

Symptoms of disease caused by WNV may include the following:

    * Flu-like signs (fever and depression)
    * Skin twitching, especially around the muzzle.
    * Hypersensitivity to touch and sound
    * Driving or pushing forward without control
    * Incoordination

Because permanent neurological problems and death can occur, early recognition and initiation of treatment is important.  No specific treatment protocol exists however most cases will resolve with supportive therapy and anti-inflammatories.

Efforts to prevent disease in horses caused by WNV is through the use of the West Nile Vaccine and through actions that will reduce exposure to mosquitoes.  The vaccine is safe and appears to be effective.