Postmortem test results have confirmed Minnesota’s first reported West Nile virus case of 2022.
In late July, an unvaccinated 4-year-old Quarter Horse mare from Kandiyohi County was euthanized due to deteriorating neurologic conditions. Tests were ordered to confirm a cause of death and results were positive for West Nile virus.
More than 30 other horses are boarded at the same facility, and the owner reports they’re all current on their West Nile virus vaccinations and appear healthy at this time. Infected horses cannot spread the virus to people or other horses.
West Nile virus is regularly found in the U.S. and birds serve as the primary host of the disease. The virus circulates between infected birds and mosquitoes. Once infected, the mosquitoes can transmit the virus to horses or people. Infected horses cannot spread the virus to people or other horses.
The virus can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Infected horses may or may not show neurological symptoms and may recover completely, especially those who have a history of annual vaccination.
In addition to vaccinations horse owners can reduce environmental risks of West Nile virus by reducing mosquitoes.