Delaware announces two more cases of West Nile Virus in horses

DOVER, Del. – The Office of the State Veterinarian announced today Delaware’s fourth and fifth cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) found in horses in 2018. Three previous cases of WNV in horses were reported in 2018, two in August and one in September.

The fourth case of WNV confirmed in a Delaware horse occurred in a 1-year-old Standardbred mare residing in Kent County. The horse received veterinary care for loss of control of limbs and buckling over in the front limbs which began on October 11. Clinical signs progressed to inability to rise, muscle twitching, and stupor. The horse was euthanized on October 15 due to the severity of its illness. She had not been vaccinated for WNV. New Bolton Center Clinical Pathology Laboratory reported positive WNV results on October 19.

The fifth infected horse is a 6-year-old Belgian mare residing in Kent County that was evaluated by a veterinarian for whole body stiffness, acting sore, and abnormal mentation consisting of aggression with a date of onset of October 12, 2018. Diagnostic specimens were submitted to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, which confirmed the diagnosis on October 23. The mare had never been previously vaccinated against WNV. She was treated supportively and her condition was improving as of October 18.

West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are diseases transmitted to horses via the bites of mosquitoes. Humans can also be infected with WNV and EEE, but transmission requires a mosquito bite and the virus cannot be directly transmitted between horses, or between horses and people. Signs of infection in horses include fever (although not always with WNV), anorexia, head pressing, depression or personality change, wobbling or staggering, weakness, blindness, convulsions, muscle spasms in the head and neck, or hind-limb weakness. If owners notice any of these signs in their horses, they should contact their veterinarian immediately. Two cases of WNV were confirmed in Delaware horses in 2017.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Mosquito Control Section has seen an increase of WNV found in wild birds and sentinel chickens this year throughout the state. There have been a total of eight EEE-positive sentinel chickens and WNV has been detected in 66 sentinel chickens and 37 wild birds. So far in Delaware in 2018, eight cases of WNV have been found in humans.

Even though we are nearing the end of the mosquito season, the State Veterinarian urges horse owners to contact their veterinarians as soon as possible to have horses and other equines vaccinated against WNV and EEE. Neither disease has a specific drug treatment, and EEE infections in horses are fatal in 70 to 90 percent of cases, and WNV in 30 percent of cases.

Horse owners can take several additional steps in the barn and around the farm to help protect horses from mosquito bites. Horses should be kept inside during dawn and dusk, which are peak hours for mosquito activity. Topical insect repellents labeled for use on horses may be applied. The wind generated by fans installed in horse stalls can also help deter mosquitoes. Old tires and containers should be disposed of and standing water eliminated. Water troughs or buckets should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled every 2-3 days if possible to remove any mosquito eggs or larvae.

For more information about WNV or EEE:
• To report suspected cases of human West Nile Virus, call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 888-295-5196.
• Animal health questions should be directed to the Delaware Department of Agriculture at 800-282-8685 (Delaware only) or 302-698-4500. Ask for the Poultry and Animal Health Section.
• Questions about the state’s mosquito control program or mosquito biology should be directed to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Mosquito Control Section at 302-739-9917.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, 302-698-4500, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov


Third equine case of West Nile Virus confirmed in Delaware

DOVER, Del. – The Office of the State Veterinarian announced today Delaware’s third case of West Nile Virus (WNV) found in horses in 2018.

The infected equine is a 10-year-old pony gelding that was purchased from a Pennsylvania livestock auction and transported to a premises in New Castle County, DE on August 27. On August 30, the pony was observed to have a fever, was leaning and walking sideways. He progressed to show signs of wobbling and staggering, decreased tail tone, and facial nerve deficits. Samples were submitted to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, which confirmed the diagnosis of WNV on September 7. The vaccination history for this pony is unknown. His condition is reported to be improving.

This is the third case of WNV reported in Delaware horses in 2018. The first and second cases were diagnosed in August, and occurred in a 3-year-old Standardbred mare residing in Kent County with unknown vaccination status and a 2-year-old Thoroughbred mare also residing in Kent County that was not up-to-date on its WNV vaccine. The Thoroughbred horse was euthanized due to the severity of its illness.

West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are diseases transmitted to horses via the bites of mosquitoes. Humans can also be infected with WNV and EEE, but transmission requires a mosquito bite and the virus cannot be directly transmitted between horses, or between horses and people. Signs of infection in horses include fever (although not always with WNV), anorexia, head pressing, depression or personality change, wobbling or staggering, weakness, blindness, convulsions, muscle spasms in the head and neck, or hind-limb weakness. If owners notice any of these signs in their horses, they should contact their veterinarian immediately. Two cases of WNV were confirmed in Delaware horses in 2017.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Mosquito Control Section has seen an increase of WNV found in wild birds and sentinel chickens this year throughout the state. Three detections of EEE, two in Sussex and one in New Castle County, have been made in sentinel chickens in the last month. So far in Delaware in 2018, five cases of WNV have been found in humans.

The State Veterinarian urges horse owners to contact their veterinarians as soon as possible, as we are in the midst of peak mosquito season, to have horses and other equines vaccinated against WNV and EEE. Neither disease has a specific drug treatment, and EEE infections in horses are fatal in 70 to 90 percent of cases, and WNV in 30 percent of cases.

Horse owners can take several additional steps in the barn and around the farm to help protect horses from mosquito bites. Horses should be kept inside during dawn and dusk, which are peak hours for mosquito activity. Topical insect repellents labeled for use on horses may be applied. The wind generated by fans installed in horse stalls can also help deter mosquitoes. Old tires and containers should be disposed of and standing water eliminated. Water troughs or buckets should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled every 2-3 days if possible to remove any mosquito eggs or larvae.

For more information about WNV or EEE:

• Human health questions should be directed to the Delaware Division of Public Health, (888) 295-5156, or (302) 744-4990.

• Animal health questions should be directed to the Delaware Department of Agriculture at (800) 282-8685 (Delaware only) or (302) 698-4500. Ask for the Poultry and Animal Health Section.

• Questions about the state’s mosquito control program or mosquito biology should be directed to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Mosquito Control Section at (302) 739-9917.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, 302-698-4500, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov


West Nile Virus confirmed in two Delaware horses

DOVER, Del. – The Office of the State Veterinarian announced today Delaware’s first and second cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) found in horses in 2018.

The first infected horse is a 3-year-old Standardbred mare residing in Kent County. The horse began showing signs of wobbling and staggering on August 19. Samples were submitted to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, which confirmed the diagnosis of WNV on August 24. No vaccination history was available for the horse. The horse has shown slight improvement in clinical signs.

The second infected horse is a 2-year-old Thoroughbred mare also residing in Kent County. This horse was evaluated by a veterinarian on August 25 and found to have a fever, mild wobbling and staggering, droopy eyelid, difficulty controlling muscles of the mouth and throat, and depression. Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center tested samples and confirmed WNV infection on August 28. This horse was not up-to-date on its WNV vaccine. The attending veterinarian has not reported any improvement in this horse’s condition.

West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are diseases transmitted to horses via the bites of mosquitoes. Humans can also be infected with WNV and EEE, but transmission requires a mosquito bite and the virus cannot be directly transmitted between horses, or between horses and people. Signs of infection in horses include fever (although not always with WNV), anorexia, head pressing, depression or personality change, wobbling or staggering, weakness, blindness, convulsions, muscle spasms in the head and neck, or hind-limb weakness. If owners notice any of these signs in their horses, they should contact their veterinarian immediately. Two cases of WNV were confirmed in Delaware horses in 2017.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Mosquito Control Section has seen an increase of WNV found in wild birds and sentinel chickens this year throughout the state. Three detections of EEE, two in Sussex and one in New Castle County, have been made in sentinel chickens in the last month. So far in Delaware in 2018, two cases of WNV have been found in humans.

The State Veterinarian urges horse owners to contact their veterinarians as soon as possible, as we are in the midst of peak mosquito season, to have horses and other equines vaccinated against WNV and EEE. Neither disease has a specific drug treatment, and EEE infections in horses are fatal in 70 to 90 percent of cases, and WNV in 30 percent of cases.

Horse owners can take several additional steps in the barn and around the farm to help protect horses from mosquito bites. Horses should be kept inside during dawn and dusk, which are peak hours for mosquito activity. Topical insect repellents labeled for use on horses may be applied. The wind generated by fans installed in horse stalls can also help deter mosquitoes. Old tires and containers should be disposed of and standing water eliminated. Water troughs or buckets should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled every 2-3 days if possible to remove any mosquito eggs or larvae.

For more information about WNV or EEE:
• Human health questions should be directed to the Delaware Division of Public Health, (888) 295-5156, or (302) 744-4990.
• Animal health questions should be directed to the Delaware Department of Agriculture at (800) 282-8685 (Delaware only) or (302) 698-4500. Ask for the Poultry and Animal Health Section.
• Questions about the state’s mosquito control program or mosquito biology should be directed to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Mosquito Control Section at (302) 739-9917.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, 302-698-4500, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov


Investigation of animal cruelty at Delaware Park concluded

DOVER, Del. — Following a starting gate incident related to the fifth race at Delaware Park on June 14, 2018, the Delaware Department of Agriculture opened a full animal cruelty investigation into the treatment of the horse, “Accolade.” Based upon a thorough investigation at both the state and track levels, the assistant starter was cleared of any wrong doing.

The decision was based upon a thorough and diligent investigation at both the track and state levels, which included but was not limited to a review of videos, interviews of those involved in the incident, and individuals who are knowledgeable regarding the standard protocols of handling a fractious horse in the starting gate when a horse becomes a danger to the jockey and/or assistant starter.

The Department of Agriculture does not condone animal cruelty and investigates any complaints to the fullest. Unfortunately, the video that the public saw did not accurately depict what happened in the starting gate.

The final decision is fully supported by the Delaware Department of Agriculture and the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, 302-698-4542, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov


West Nile Virus confirmed in Delaware horse

DOVER, Del. – The Office of the State Veterinarian today announced the Delaware’s first case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a horse in 2017. The infected horse was an 11-year-old Quarter horse mare residing in Kent County. The horse began showing signs of weakness in all four limbs on August 6.  The mare lost the ability to stand and was therefore euthanized on August 9. Samples were submitted to the Delaware Public Health Laboratory on August 10, which confirmed the diagnosis of WNV on August 14. The affected horse was not currently vaccinated against WNV.

West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are diseases transmitted to horses via the bites of mosquitoes. Humans can also be infected with WNV and EEE, but transmission requires a mosquito bite and the virus cannot be directly transmitted between horses, or between horses and people. Signs of infection in horses include fever (although not always with WNV), anorexia, head pressing, depression or personality change, wobbling or staggering, weakness, blindness, convulsions, muscle spasms in the head and neck, or hind-limb weakness. If owners notice any of these signs in their horses, they should contact their veterinarian immediately.

This is the first confirmed case of WNV in a horse in Delaware since 2015. However, The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Mosquito Control Section, in conjunction with the Delaware Division of Public Health Laboratory and the Department of Agriculture, announced two detections of WNV and one detection of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in DNREC’s sentinel chickens, and detection of WNV in a wild crow, in July and August. So far in Delaware this year, no cases of WNV or EEE have been found in humans.

Vaccinate your horse against West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis

The State Veterinarian urges horse owners to contact their veterinarians as soon as possible, as we are in the midst of peak mosquito season, to have horses and other equines vaccinated against WNV and EEE. Neither disease has a specific drug treatment, and EEE infections in horses are fatal in 70-90% of cases, and WNV in 30% of cases.

Horse owners can take several additional steps in the barn and around the farm to help protect horses from mosquito bites. Horses should be kept inside during dawn and dusk, which are peak hours for mosquito activity. Topical insect repellents labeled for use on horses may be applied. The wind generated by fans installed in horse stalls can also help deter mosquitoes. Old tires and containers should be disposed of and standing water eliminated. Water troughs or buckets should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled every 2-3 days if possible to remove any mosquito eggs or larvae.

For more information about WNV or EEE:
• Human health questions should be directed to the Delaware Division of Public Health, (888) 295-5156, or (302) 744-4990.
• Animal health questions should be directed to the Delaware Department of Agriculture at (800) 282-8685 (Delaware only) or (302) 698-4500. Ask for the Poultry and Animal Health Section.
• Questions about the state’s mosquito control program or mosquito biology should be directed to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Mosquito Control Section at (302) 739-9917.

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