Posted: Aug 28, 2013 5:20 PM by MTN News
The Montana Department of Livestock is reminding equine owners to be on the lookout for West Nile Virus.
State veterinarian Marty Zaluski said in a press release, "We've had nine positive cases confirmed in the past five days, so the threat is definitely there."
Zaluski said equine owners should be familiar with clinical signs of the disease, which can be hard to distinguish from other neurological diseases such as sleeping sickness and rabies. Some of those signs include:
Loss of appetite and depression;
Incoordination or weakness of the hind limbs;
Muscle or muzzle twitching;
Inability to swallow.
"If you notice any of these, or other, unusual symptoms, contact your veterinarian," Zaluski said. "There is no direct treatment for the virus, but with early detection and supportive veterinary care, some infected horses will recover."
Zaluski says that vaccination has been shown to be highly effective in preventing the virus.
It requires an initial vaccination and then a booster, and is typically administered in the spring. Your veterinarian can help determine if an initial vaccination this late in the season would provide adequate protection.
Of the seven cases with known vaccination histories, six have not been vaccinated for WNV and one was not current; four of those horses either died or were euthanized.
Topical insecticides can provide more immediate protection, according to Greg Johnson, a veterinary entomologist at Montana State University.
Johnson said, "I'd suggest a permethrin insecticide treatment to suppress mosquito blood feeding. A product like Brute pour-on (10% permethrin) can be applied as a wipe-on, while Gardstar (40% permethrin) can be mixed with water and applied as a low volume spray or a wipe-on. "
A single application can provide up to seven days of protection, he said, and "using it for a couple of weeks might be enough to get you through the rest of the mosquito season."