Protecting Your Pets from West Nile

By Michael Sevren, Fremont County Reporter
msevren@k2tv.com

With two confirmed human case of West Nile virus and countless mosquitoes swarming the state. Many people are worried about not only protecting them selves but their furry friends too.   

Dr. Morgan Kennedy with Lander Valley Animal Hospital says that dogs and cats don't contract the disease or become ill from mosquitoes that could be infected with it.

But while felines and K-9s are not effected by West Nile virus. horses are a different story.

"As far the symptoms in horses it's typically neuralgic symptoms of varying degrees." says Dr. Kennedy "Ataxia, stumbling, as well as acute death. It is a disease that can be fatal in horses.    

With so many horses in Fremont county, which is a hot bed for West Nile virus, there has been some cases reported in the past.

But the young Dr. Kennedy says that there has been no positive cases at Lander Valley Animal Hospital this summer. "I do know of one that happened last year and that horse did survive." 

Unlike humans, horses can be vaccinated for West Nile and other mosquitoes born diseases. 

"There is Easter and Western Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis." Says the Lander native. "They cause brain inflammation infections and those can be carried by mosquitoes as well. A common vaccination does have those diseases a part of it as well as West Nile and tetanus."

But if a horse does contract WNV it's not all lost, there are plenty of supportive treatments available.

Dr Kennedy says if they are not drinking then IV fluids and hospitalization should be instated. "It just depends on how severe the symptoms are."

Veterinarians say it's safer to get your horse vaccinated in the spring before the mosquito season starts, but if you have not done so yet it's never to late.