Complete coverage of the West Nile virus in North Texas

Veterinarians Promote West Nile Vaccine for Horses

The West Nile Virus can impact horses

By Sara Story
|  Thursday, Aug 2, 2012  |  Updated 11:53 AM CDT
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Protect Horses Against West Nile Virus Threat

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Horses Vulnerable to West Nile Virus

There have been a handful of equine cases of West Nile virus, and Denton County's thriving horse industry is trying to protect animals from the disease.

Protect Horses Against West Nile Virus Threat

NBC 5's Samantha Davies chats with horse owner and former Denton County Agricultural Extension Agent Eddie Baggs about the West Nile Virus threat on the horse population. NBC 5 Denton County Reporter Sara Story caught up with Baggs about a vaccine for horses vulnerable to West Nile Virus. Visit her story here.
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The West Nile Virus is impacting the horse population, as well as humans. Horses are vulnerable to the disease, and there have been a handful of reported equine cases this summer.

Veterinarians say there is a way to protect your animal from the virus.

"We have 26,000 head of horses in Denton County, and this is a $55 million annually industry in this county," horse owner Eddie Baggs said.

Baggs is concerned about the impact the virus could have on his animals and the horse industry in Denton County.

Equine veterinarian Matt Lampe said any horse is susceptible; however, like humans, the older horses and horses with weak immune systems are more likely to contract the virus.

"Once they become infected, they get an inflamed spinal column, they lose their coordination, some are unable to rise, and death is not unheard of," Lampe said.

However, Lampe said there is a West Nile vaccine for horses, and it's 94-percent effective.

"We have almost eliminated this disease from the equine populations with the vaccination protocols," Lampe said. "If we are vaccinating your horses, you are very unlikely to see a case. If you are not, you are at the risk as the un-vaccinated people are."

Baggs said there have been four confirmed cases of the virus in horses in the North Texas region this summer. Two of the confirmed cases were in Parker County, and two were in Collin County.  He said these low numbers prove the vaccine is effective.

"We are very meticulous about our health program here on the ranch to make sure the horses are taken care of and we take those preventative steps," Baggs said.


West Nile Virus:
Click here for complete coverage of the outbreak of West Nile virus in North Texas. Find updated numbers of human cases, spraying schedules, and more FAQs about the disease.

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