The Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health has received notification of multiple confirmed cases of West Nile virus in horses across the state. These cases have been reported over the past few weeks in Lyon, Seward, Neosho, Marion and Wichita counties. All the cases were in unvaccinated horses or horses with an unknown vaccination history.
The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and is not directly contagious from horse to horse or horse to human. Symptoms in horses range from depression, loss of appetite and fever to severe neurological signs including incoordination, weakness and hypersensitivity to touch or sound. It can be fatal to horses. It is a reportable disease in Kansas, which means veterinarians are required by law to report any confirmed cases to the state veterinarian.
West Nile virus is preventable through annual vaccinations that are proven to be highly effective. All horse owners should consult their veterinarian about vaccination history and future plans.