Rancher protects horses with West Nile vaccine

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NORMAN, Okla. -- Gene McKown has plenty invested in his horse farm.

The Norman farmer has 36 beautiful and valuable cutting horses.

Gene knows his quarter horses are extremely vulnerable to mosquitoes.

McKown said, "Some of the best horses in our sport have died from West Nile."

"MK Cutting Horses" is taking every precaution.

The barns are equipped with nozzles that spray mosquito-killing pesticides.

They use special watering troughs that eliminate stagnant water, a breeding grown for virus-carrying mosquitoes. 

Vet Technician Jamie Siebold said, "Everyone with a horse and water, you have to be responsible. Make sure there is no standing water and do the best you can to protect your horses."

One of the easiest and least expensive precautions is a West Nile vaccine.

Equine veterinarian Dr. Patrick Young said a simple injection is much cheaper than the alternative.

He said, "$20 is reasonable considering if that horse goes down and we have to treat it, we're talking $500 to $1,000 just to give it a fighting chance."

Infected horses can suffer from seizures, facial paralysis, inability to rise and even death in about a third of all cases.

It's a gamble Gene Mckown is not willing to risk.

McKown said, "We take every precaution we can to stay mosquito free!"

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