Saturday, February 09, 2008

Your Horse(s) and the West Nile Threat

Horseback Riding

Your Horse(s) and the West Nile Threat By J. Foley

West Nile Virus is a very real danger for most mammals, including humans. If you have a horse, you could be at even more risk, since farm animals are very susceptible to this disease. In most cases, the West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquito bites, and in many cases, this disease is fatal. As your horse’s caregiver, it is your responsibility to protect your horse from the West Nile virus and to treat your horse is he or she becomes infected. Remember, owning a horse is a huge responsibility. Horses are just like children—they often cannot care for themselves, so it is your job to provide your horse with everything he or she needs, including treatment when sick.

First, consider vaccinating your horse to prevent West Nile virus. The vaccination for this disease was released in 2003 and can really protect horses, especially those at a high risk for contracting West Nile virus. There are some downfalls as well, however, such as the cost. By talking to your vet, you can learn how often your horse will need the shot and how much it will cost. If you have insurance for your horse, these costs may be covered.

Killing the mosquitoes found in your neighborhood is also a crucial way to protect your horse from developing West Nile virus. To do this without introducing harmful chemicals into the environment, discourage mosquitoes from breeding in the first place. Remove trash and other places where standing water is a problem, and talk to your vet about natural mosquito repellents. Fans also help to deter the mosquito population, and at the very least, don’t turn on lights in the bard or stables after the sun has gone down when possible.

Remember to protect yourself as well. Humans can also get the West Nile virus, and so if you take care of your horse, it is crucial to recognize this danger. Wearing long clothing and using bug spray, especially in the evening, can prevent mosquitoes from biting. You can also put up screens in the doors to the barn if the problem is very bad.

Mosquitoes are most active dusk to dawn, and so your horse will have less of a chance of being bitten if you stay inside during the evening and night. Although a night ride may be fun, if the mosquito population in your area is high, it is best to stay indoors. If you are unsure about how to prevent mosquito bites and your horse seems to have an abundance of them, talk to you vet. Keeping your horse safe should be a number one priority.
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Article Written By J. Foley

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