New antibody introduced to treat horses with West Nile

Virginia Farm Bureau

RICHMOND—Colorado Serum Co. has developed a new product to treat the West Nile virus in horses. Recommended for infected horses, West Nile Virus Antibody neutralizes the virus and can be taken orally or intravenously. The company said the product is concentrated, purified and ready for use straight from the bottle.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that circulates among wild birds. It affects horses more than any other domestic animal and can cause inflammation of the brain. Symptoms include loss of coordination, lack of interest in surroundings and loss of appetite, all of which can cause a horse to go down and be unable to get up on its own. One-third of infected horses die or need to be euthanized.

With the introduction of new antibodies and other precautions, fewer horses are suffering from West Nile virus.

“We’re starting to see the number of cases of the West Nile virus in horses decrease each year,” said Spencer Neale, a commodities expert with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, “and it’s because people are taking the right precautions.”

According to the National Center for Health Programs, about 15,000 horses were infected with the West Nile virus in 2002. In 2004, only 1,341 cases were detected.

Another trend Neale noted was that more cases are appearing in the West, notably California and Arizona.

“You would think Arizona wouldn’t have a problem with mosquitoes, being such a dry state,” Neale said. “But it’s the swimming pools that are attracting the mosquitoes.”

In 2004, 113 equine cases of the virus appeared in Arizona compared to only 16 in Virginia.

Simple precautions can be taken to keep equine safe from the virus, including keeping horses away from wet, swampy areas, applying mosquito repellants on horses and in barns, and stocking mosquito-friendly areas with fish, bats or other predators.

Contact Neale at 804-290-1153 or Kelly Pruitt, VFBF special projects coordinator, at 804-290-1134.
© 2004-2012 Horse Tack Review

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