Texoma breeders protecting horses from West Nile Virus

By: Morgan Downing Email
By: Morgan Downing Email

WHITESBORO, TEXAS -- West Nile Virus affects horses just like it does humans. In fact, since 1999 more than 25,000 horses have been infected in the U.S. There haven't been any equine cases here yet, but local ranchers said they aren't taking any chances.

We know mosquitoes pose a threat to humans. Hundreds of Texans and several OKlahomans have already been infected with West Nile Virus this year. But the pesky insect threatens horses too.

"They can get depression, stumbly, have all kinds of different neurological signs," EE Ranches mare and foal manager Jessie Dube said.

If a mosquito with West Nile Virus infects this 1200 pound horse, it only takes a matter of days before symptoms set in. So, prevention is key.

Here at EE Ranches, more than 150 horses are vaccinated. Ranch manager Steve Adams says he's been all for the shots after he lost a horse a few years ago.

"It's not terribly expensive, but on the reverse of that it's incredibly expensive if you lose an animal because you didn't vaccinate it," Adams said.

Horses are vaccinated twice a year. Pregnant mares are vaccinated more often so their babies can get protection through the mother's milk.

EE Ranches makes sure no standing water is around and they keep large fans in the stalls to keep mosquitoes away. Spraying also helps. One local pest control company stays busy.

"We do ranches. We've got a lot of farms and ranches we do. Especially where they have horses. Recently, we've done some events where there's rodeos are going to be held. So, a lot to do with horses as well," exterminator Andy McAngus said.

The West Nile vaccine isn't new, but there are owners who don't vaccinate their horses. Adams said it's a problem.

"One of the biggest concerns that we have here is the fact that a lot of people don't do anything until their horse, until they take them and bring them to a breeding facility. So, a lot of horses that we have come in here have not been vaccinated," Adams said.

After doing some researching it looks like the price of the vaccine usually runs about $27 per dose.
So, about $54 a year for a horse around this area.

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