Tennessee veterinarian urges horse owners to take precautions due to recent virus threats


Tennessee veterinarian urges horse owners to take precautions due to recent virus threats

A Tennessee veterinarian has announced three new cases of horses sickened by viruses that infect the blood.

According to a press release, a horse in Davidson County and a horse in Knox County recently tested positive for West Nile Virus. A horse in Bedford County tested positive for equine infectious anemia (EIA). Although the viruses are contracted easily from horse to horse, sick horses cannot directly infect people.

“We think about the summer as being bad for biting insects, but the risk carries well into the fall,” State Veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher said. “Horse owners need to be vigilant, take preventive measures and practice good animal husbandry to protect their livestock year-round.”

For WNV, mosquitoes and other biting insects transmit the disease. Symptoms in horses may include fever, weakness, loss of appetite or convulsions. The illness is treatable and the WNV vaccine for equines is particularly effective.

EIA is commonly transmitted through biting insects or sharing needles. Symptoms in horses may include fever, weakness, swelling, loss of appetite or colic. However, an infected horse may not show any clinical signs. There is no treatment or vaccine. If a horse is infected, they must be permanently quarantined or euthanized.

State law requires an annual Coggins test to check for the presence of EIA before any horse is transported from its home farm to a different location. In the press release, Dr. Hatcher advises that horse owners consult with their veterinarians to establish a schedule for vaccines and Coggins tests.

Other tips include:

  • Avoid co-mingling your horses with other, unfamiliar horses.
  • Never share needles, dental, or surgical equipment among different animals.
  • Eliminate standing water sources where insects may gather and breed.
  • Manage manure and disposal.
  • Apply fly sprays and insect repellants as needed.

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