Keep horses vaccinated to protect against West Nile Virus

Testing for West Nile Virus in mosquitos begins to protect human health


Ciara Ressel
Public Information Officer
Sparks, Nev - June 08, 2020

The Nevada Department of Agriculture(NDA) urges horse owners throughout the state to vaccinate against West Nile Virus (WNV). WNV is the leading mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States and can cause severe illness in a horse’s brain, spinal cord and nervous system.

Every year, the NDA monitors WNV and other diseases carried by mosquitos (also known as arboviral), such as Saint Louis Encephalitis (SLE) and Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE) closely for the protection of public health and the agriculture industry.

“In the Animal Disease Laboratory, we test mosquito sample pools from across the state to survey for all three diseases and report our findings to local health departments,” Laura Morrow, Animal Disease Laboratory supervisor, said.

Nevada residents should take precautions such as eliminating mosquito-breeding sites, using insect repellents and keeping horses vaccinated against WNV, SLE and WEE.

“Owners should consult with their veterinarian to establish a management plan, including vaccination for West Nile Virus,” said NDA State Veterinarian Dr. Amy Mitchell. “Appropriate preventative care, such as decreasing exposure to mosquitos and timely vaccination, are both important in preventing mosquito-borne diseases”.

Dr. Mitchell emphasizes that minimizing horse exposure to mosquitos can be just as important as vaccination. Mosquito exposure can be minimized with the use of deterrents and elimination ofunnecessary standing water around barns and stalls (troughs, buckets, tires, pans, etc.).

WNV has been prevalent in Nevada since 2004, while SLE and WEE have been widespread in the western United States for decades. All three can cause severe disease and death in horses and humans. Testing is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State of Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health.


About the Nevada Department of Agriculture

The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) mission is to preserve, protect and promote Nevada’s agriculture. The department has 150 dedicated employees providing services in its five divisions, Administration, Animal Industry, Consumer Equitability, Food and Nutrition, and Plant Industry. The department’s $232 million budget facilitates regulatory and administrative work in agriculture and food manufacturing industries, protecting public and environmental health and worker safety, and providing food distribution and oversight for the United States Department of Agriculture’s school and community nutrition programs.