The United States is dealing with one of the country’s largest West Nile virus outbreaks, says a disease specialist. So far in the year 2012, 47 states have reported the infections in birds, mosquitoes or people. There are a total of 1118 cases of the outbreak in humans, which include 41 deaths reported to the CDC or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the total number of cases, 56% affected the brain with such diseases as encephalitis or meningitis.
The 1118 reported cases is by far the highest number of cases of West Nile Virus infections reported to CDC beginning the third week of August since the virus was first detected in US in 1999. Seventy-five per cent of the reported cases come from five states namely, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, and almost half of all the reported cases are from Texas.
West Nile virus is mosquito-borne and can cause disease in various species including horses. It is prevalent across the US especially in birds and the main vector for spreading the disease to mammals is mosquito bites.
In 2011, 30 states have reported 87 cases in equines. As of August 21, there are about 77 cases of virus infections which had been reported in 2012 – the worst of which is in Louisiana with 21 cases. There were also cases reported from Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.
People all over the country are extremely concerned about the outbreak, especially in areas with hard-hits like Texas. The CDC is working together with the state and local public departments to take control of the situation.
West Nile virus has caused severe form of illness or even death in horses. While, data revealed that most horses that are infected can recover, many horses in the US have died because of the infections. Horses get the infection via a mosquito bite, the same mode of transmission as in humans. After transmission of the virus through a mosquito bite, the West Nile virus will replicate in the blood system of the horse, crossing through the blood brain barrier and infecting the brain. The virus will disrupt the normal functions of the central nervous system and cause brain inflammation.
Fortunately enough, vaccines for West Nile virus are available. Consult your veterinarian for a vaccination program for your horse against this virus. If your horse is suspected to have West Nile virus and suffers from a disease, supportive treatment is crucial for the animal’s recovery and survival.