West Nile found in horse; animal treated in Olathe

The first confirmed case of West Nile virus in a horse on the Western Slope was treated in Olathe last week.

The horse, a 3-year-old gelding, suffered some neurological problems but was able to walk, load in a trailer and return home, said Dr. John Shull with Western Slope Animal Hospital in Olathe.

“He probably had a milder case because he had been vaccinated in the past, but he wasn’t vaccinated this year,” Shull said.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that strikes both horses and humans. It hasn’t been as prevalent in this area the past few years as it was three or four years ago, in part because people in recent years have been vaccinating their horses and taking precautions to reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes. Several equine cases have been reported on the Front Range.

“I don’t think it will ever disappear,” Shull said. “I think we’ll have years when it doesn’t appear very much, then it will come back because people don’t vaccinate.”

September has historically been the month when the highest number of West Nile virus cases appear in horses. If horse owners didn’t vaccinate their animals earlier this year, it’s not too late to do so, Shull said. Also, people should reduce standing water and take other action to reduce the number of mosquitoes around their property, he said.


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