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12 horses confirmed to be infected with West Nile Virus in Colorado

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Posted at 7:55 PM, Sep 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-28 21:55:30-04

BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- A dozen horses in Colorado have been confirmed to be infected with the West Nile Virus, according to Colorado Department of Agriculture officials. 

The breakdown of the infected cases is as follows: 

  • Larimer County = 4 cases
  • Weld County = 3 cases
  • LaPlata County = 2 cases
  • Adams County = 1 case
  • Mesa County = 1 case
  • Pueblo County = 1 case

"Vaccines in horses have proven to be a very effective prevention tool," said Christi Lightcap with the Colorado Department of Agriculture. 

She added that horses that have been vaccinated in the past need an annual booster shot. But, Lightcap said, "if an owner did not vaccinate their animal in previous years, the horse will need the two-shot vaccination series within a three to four week period."

Officials also advised horse owners to reduce mosquito populations and their breeding areas. Some ways to do so include removing stagnant water sources, keeping animals inside during the insect's feeding times -- typically early in the morning and evening -- and using mosquito repellents. 

Horses infected with the West Nile Virus may display the following symptoms:

  • Head tilt
  • Muscle tremors
  • Stumbling
  • Lack of coordination
  • Weakness of the limbs or partial paralysis 

Officials warned that these symptoms are also similar to other neurological illnesses in horses including equine encephalitis, rabies, and equine herpes virus.

"It is important to work with your veterinarian to get an accurate diagnosis through laboratory testing," said Lightcap. 

Lastly, officials said the West Nile Virus can also be carried by infected birds and spread by mosquitoes that bite those birds. The mosquitoes can then pass the virus to humans and animals.

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