Protect against West Nile Virus by keeping your horses vaccinated

Vaccination ensures protection of public health and Nevada agriculture


Ciara Ressel
Public Information Officer II
Sparks, Nev. - August 12, 2021

The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) reminds horse owners in Nevada of the importance of vaccinating against West Nile Virus (WNV). This mosquito-borne disease can cause serious illness targeting a horse’s brain, spinal cord and nervous system.  The disease can also be transmitted to humans from infected mosquitos.

The NDA monitors WNV and other diseases carried by mosquitos  on an annual basis to ensure the protection of public health and the agriculture industry.

“Statewide testing of mosquito sample pools is essential in monitoring diseases like WNV,” Laura Morrow, Animal Disease Laboratory Supervisor, said. “The Animal Disease Laboratory surveys and tests for these diseases and reports the results to local health departments and vector control agencies.”

Taking precautions such as using insect repellents, eliminating mosquito-breeding sites and keeping horses vaccinated against WNV, Saint Louis Encephalitis (SLE) and Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE) is strongly encouraged for all horse owners.

NDA State Veterinarian Dr. Amy Mitchell urges horse owners to consult with their veterinarian about an effective management plan, which should include vaccination. Timely vaccination and decreasing exposure to mosquitos is an effective way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases.

“Preventing mosquito borne disease is a two-pronged approach,” said Dr. Mitchell. “Vaccination is extremely effective, but reducing exposure is also key.  The use of deterrents, in addition to eliminating unnecessary standing water around barns and residences is extremely beneficial in keeping mosquitos away from you and your horse.”

WNV, SLE and WEE have been detected in Nevada, all three of which can cause significant illness and death in both horses and humans. WNV and WEE are reportable diseases in Nevada meaning that detections must be reported to the NDA. 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.