Okla. Dept. of Agriculture warns livestock owners against West Nile Virus

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JONES,Okla. -- If you've been anywhere outside in the metro, you've probably been attacked by mosquitoes.

It's usually not a problem other than the itch, but when the threat of West Nile is there, it's not only humans that need to worry about it, but also livestock.

Horses and mosquitoes are something unavoidable if you are in the equine industry, but at Dennis Ranch, the threat of West Nile has them taking extra precautions to help avoid the potentially deadly virus.

"In horses, about 30 percent of them result in a fatality or death of a horse, so it's obviously a pretty severe disease," Grace Owen, a vet with Equine Medical Associates, says.

"In another additional 40 percent that recover after that acute phase, they actually can still have clinical signs still apparent, so they might not recover fully," Owen said.

And for these majestic animals who can't swat off the bugs, it's important to give them extra help.

"Prevent stagnant water from forming, if you've got old tires that collect water, if you've got old water buckets collecting water, dump the water out, another things would be to put goldfish in there, they're really good at eating the larvae," Owen says.

And with a large increase in mosquito population, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture urges horse owners to take those same precautions.

"There's no specific treatment for West Nile, in general, it's just supportive care," Owen says.

Care that is not a complete shield against the blood suckers, so if you notice these symptoms, call your vet immediately.

"Things like fever, depression, they're sometimes not specific to West Nile, you might see things like head pressing or circling aimlessly," Owen said.

There are vaccines that you can get for your horses.

Consult your vet for more information.

 

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