When Laminitis Strikes, What’s Your First Line Of Defense?

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Barbaro, Edgar Prado, and Dr. Dean Richardson at New Bolton during the Derby winner’s treatment for laminitis

The most important time to take action against laminitis is when a horse shows early signs or a high-risk event occurs that might trigger laminitis. Triggers for laminitis range from exposure to black walnuts to injury to physiological disruption from colic, high fever, retained placenta, or carbohydrate overload. In essence, anything that causes a horse significant trauma might set in motion a cascade that ends in laminitis.

Laminitis is regarded by many in the veterinary field as the most horrific disease to attack horses because in severe cases, it literally causes the hoof capsule to slough off when the laminae that make up the connective tissue between the interior structure of the hoof and the hoof wall die. Theories about what actually happens to the horse physiologically to cause laminitis are numerous, and researchers still seek answers to many questions about the disease.

Dr. Hannah Galantino-Homer is the director of the Laminitis Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. The laboratory is part of the Laminitis Institute founded by the university after the tragic death of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. The colt was euthanized after an eight-month battle against laminitis at New Bolton Center after fracturing his right hind leg at the beginning of the Preakness Stakes.

If you think laminitis is a threat, call your veterinarian immediately. Time is of the essence.

Galantino-Homer said several things can be done while waiting for the veterinarian to arrive. First, move the horse to a confined area with soft footing. This can be a round pen with a deep sand base or a stall with at least six inches of bedding, either shavings or several bales of scattered straw.

“This allows them to distribute the weight more, and it encourages them to lie down if their feet are really sore,” she said.

Next, ice the horse’s feet. Studies show that cryotherapy reduces pain and inflammation. This can be done by standing a horse in ice and water, using ice boots, packing crushed ice in a bag and securing it to the horse’s foot with bandage, or pulling pantyhose over the horse’s lower limb and filling it with ice. If you are fortunate to have a Game Ready system, this is an ideal use for it.

More importantly, icing can slow down the cascade of events.

“Any kind of damaged tissue tends to compound the damage by releasing more things that cause more damage, more inflammation,” Galantino-Homer said. “You’re slowing all that down. You’re slowing the metabolism of the white blood cells that have been activated by tissue damage going on. So you’re trying to slow all that down.”

Administering a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug is the next measure but be sure to get your veterinarian’s approval first. The horse’s history, current medical condition, and potential cause of laminitis must all be factored into what the horse should receive.

“Veterinarians have preferences for what they use,” Galantino-Homer said. “For a horse owner in a first-aid situation, it would be whatever you have on hand—Bute, Banamine. It’s medical management for painkilling and inflammation, and it is going to depend on other clinical aspects. Such as a horse with colitis, you have to worry more about kidney damage. So they may manage pain differently.”

When your veterinarian arrives, he or she will examine the horse to determine the best course of treatment. This commonly includes tubing the horse with mineral oil and activated charcoal to protect the intestinal mucosa, particularly in the case of carbohydrate overload. When colitis is a threat, your veterinarian may recommend Bio-Sponge to combat bacterial overgrowth, Galantino-Homer said. Developed by the late Dr. Doug Herthel’s Platinum Performance laboratory, Bio-Sponge oral paste is an intestinal adsorbent that grabs onto damaging agents and carries them out of the horse’s body when it defecates.

Because laminitis is a complex disease and every horse is an individual, no set plan of treatment can be applied to every horse. Long term, expect the horse to require the care of a farrier knowledgeable about laminitis and therapeutic shoeing. Your veterinarian also may recommend management changes for the horse, including a nutritionist to modify the horse’s diet.

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Ask Your Veterinarian: How Much Does Environment Influence OCD Lesions?

by | 07.09.2018 | 2:38pm

Question: What do we know about environmental factors that could make a horse more or less likely to get OCD?

Answer: Osteochondrosis (OC) is widely understood to be a disturbance of endochondral ossification (the formation of bone from cartilage) and is arguably one of the most clinically relevant developmental orthopedic diseases in the equine patient. Although it was once thought that OC lesions were static, sequential radiographic studies on foals, weanlings, and yearlings revealed that the characteristic lesions of OC could increase in size or completely regress (“heal”) up to 12 months of age. The timeline of this lesion formation and regression is different for each joint, and has supported the idea that there are number of environmental factors, in addition to genetics, that play a role in the progression of osteochondrosis.

Although no definitive cause of osteochondrosis has been determined, factors such as nutrition and exercise have been shown to play a role in the development and progression of OC lesions. Of these possible etiologies, the role of nutrition has been most closely investigated. Initial research into the effect of diet on OC focused largely on dietary energy level, usually in relation to a high growth rate.  Although the results of many of these studies seem to be conflicting, many support the conclusion that high growth rate (a combination of genetics and diet) is associated with an increase in the severity of OC lesions. It is important to note, however, that this is a combined effect: decreasing nutritional plane below maintenance levels will not decrease the incidence or severity of OC lesions and can lead to other dietary imbalances.

Studies investigating the role of trace elements (copper, zinc, calcium, and phosphorus) have determined that low copper levels (which can be induced by increased zinc) are linked to decreased resolution of OC lesions, and copper supplementation, to a certain extent, was able to reduce the severity of cartilage lesions. Investigations into the role of calcium and phosphorus in OC have determined that high calcium diets failed to produce OC lesions, whereas high phosphorus diets (five times NRC) reliably produced lesions in foals.

The role of exercise in the formation of OC lesions seems intuitive; it is well known that exercise is vital to the formation of a functional articular cartilage surface and OC is a developmental defect in articular cartilage. Investigations into the exact role of exercise in OC however, have yielded conflicting results.  In some studies, increased exercise was correlated with decreased incidence in OC, whereas other research was unable to find decreased incidence in OC lesions with exercised horses but did notice a decrease in severity of existing lesions. As with nutrition, it is clear that although exercise can play a supporting role in decreasing the incidence or severity of OC, no single factor is responsible for the course of the disease.

Since the process of cartilage metabolism and bone formation is highly dynamic, especially during the first year of age, it is widely thought that there are certain periods of times (“windows of susceptibility”) during which environmental factors can play a pivotal role in the severity of OC lesions. Research investigating these developmental periods, as well as the exact pathogenesis of osteochondrosis, will yield more answers and recommendations in the future.

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Can Bandages Cause Tendon Damage In Racehorses?

by | 06.11.2018 | 1:19pm

Many racehorses have their legs bandaged in an effort to reduce the chance of overreaching and injury when they are worked or exercised; many sport horses and those ridden for pleasure have their legs bandaged or wrapped by owners who believe they are providing support to equine legs. In horses that are not racing, the chance of injury from interference is much lower as they are not working at racing speeds.

British veterinarian Dr. Campbell Thompson of Nantwich Equine Vets is urging horse owners and riders to carefully consider if their horses should wear leg support while being ridden. The former vet of the British Olympic team, Thompson warns that horses’ legs can overheat if the horse is worked hard or if the weather is hot. This overheating can make horses susceptible to tendon damage in the legs that are wrapped, he says.

While open-front boots, like those worn by horses that jump, are not potentially harmful, bandages that completely encase the horse’s legs, like those used on racehorses, can cause overheating and potential for injury, Thompson said. Additionally, he does not feel that any wraps provide support for the horse’s limbs.

Read more at Horse & Hound

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Ask Your Veterinarian: What Heart Scans Can Tell You, And What They Can’t

by | 05.21.2018 | 6:34pm

Secretariat, who was known for having an abnormally large heart

QUESTION: Some buyers at the upper end of the auction market are now including heart scans as part of their pre-sale vetting process. What can these scans tell buyers, and what don’t they tell us?

ANSWER: Heart scans, also known as echocardiograms, are used to create ultrasonographic images of the heart. Echocardiography allows visualization of the entirety of the heart. This includes the cardiac walls and interventricular septum (composed of cardiac muscle), the valves and chambers within the heart, and the large vessels that carry blood to and away from the heart.  Ultrasound facilitates accurate measurement of these cardiac structures and can be performed at different phases of the cardiac cycle (such as systole and diastole). By examining the heart throughout the cardiac cycle, determination of cardiac function indicators can be made. Some of these indicators of cardiac function include stroke volume, cardiac output, fractional shortening, and end-diastolic volume.

Many of us are familiar with racehorses storied to have famously large hearts—Secretariat and Eclipse being two primary examples. It has been theorized that the successes of these two legendary horses can be credited to the size of this organ. And there is reason to conclude that this is the case. The left ventricle is the most muscular cardiac chamber and is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood coming directly from the lungs out through the aorta to be delivered to the rest of the body. In human athletes that are trained for either endurance or strength, there is evidence that thickening (hypertrophy) of the left ventricular wall can occur with training. This structural change can lead to increases in stroke volume and cardiac output, which ultimately enhance a person’s oxygen carrying capacity. Studies have also demonstrated that these structural changes can occur in equine athletes in response to training. Electrocardiography was used in the 1970s to demonstrate that increased cardiac size is related to enhanced athletic performance.

Heart scans have become an important component of the sales process. The veterinarians who perform these scans have measured a large number of equine hearts and have as such amassed a large database of information. This information can be used to make recommendations on both the athletic and breeding potential for a horse. Because much of this data is proprietary information, there is a paucity of recent peer-reviewed literature available on the subject. However, many who have pursued this purchasing strategy have encountered success in using it. It must be emphasized that evaluating the heart in isolation from the rest of the body is really just “one piece of the puzzle”. The athletic potential of a sales horse often includes analysis of other factors, including genetics and musculoskeletal conformation, before a recommendation is made.

The use of echocardiography in horses is not limited to assessing athletic potential. Echocardiography is a critical tool in evaluating a horse’s heart for cardiac pathology. When performed for this reason, a heart scan is typically completed by a cardiologist or internal medicine specialist. The aim of an echocardiographic examination in this scenario is to gather information that will allow for diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Common indications for this type of heart scan include valvular leakage, stretching of the cardiac walls, and congenital defects. While any of these abnormalities can certainly affect athletic potential, they can also interfere with a horse’s longevity and even a horse’s safety to ride due to a potential for collapse. Just as in heart scans performed in a sales setting, the echocardiogram can be used by a specialist as “one piece of the puzzle”. Other diagnostic tools, such as physical examination, electrocardiography, and exercise testing, will aid a veterinarian in tracking progression of disease and formulation of a treatment plan.

Dr. Bill Gilsenan received his veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. Following an internship at Colorado State University, he completed a residency in large animal internal medicine at the New Bolton Center—University of Pennsylvania. He became board certified in large animal internal medicine in 2012. He held a faculty position at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine until joining the staff at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital as an internal medicine specialist in 2015.

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LSU Student Among Thirty-Three Veterinary Students Rewarded for Leadership, Commitment to Equine Medicine

Thirty-three veterinary students preparing for a career in equine medicine have received a combined $102,000 in financial support through the 2017 Winner’s Circle Scholarship Program, co-sponsored by the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ (AAEP) Foundation, Platinum Performance and The Race For Education.

The Winner’s Circle scholarships, managed by The Race For Education, are intended to help ease the financial burden of a veterinary education by offering third- and fourth-year students at each of the AAEP’s 39 full or full-affiliate student chapters an opportunity to earn scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the needs of the individual student. Students are selected for scholarships based on their leadership roles and dedication to a future in equine healthcare.

Since its establishment in 2008, the Winner’s Circle Scholarship Program has provided nearly $1.5 million in scholarships to 315 veterinary students.

“The rising cost of veterinary school continues to present challenges to talented students who endeavor to enter the equine veterinary profession,” said Richard Mitchell, DVM, MRCVS, DACVSMR, chairman of the AAEP Foundation Advisory Council. “We are grateful to all of our donors and especially thank our partners The Race For Education and Platinum Performance for all their long-time support.”

In 2017, 18 students received $1,500 scholarships; 15 others received $5,000 scholarships— which includes $4,000 in scholarship funds from The Race For Education’s Assets for Independence Program—a federal grant program in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration For Children and Families. Only U.S. students attending veterinary school in the U.S. were eligible for awards through the federal matching grant. An additional 19 applicants not selected for Winner’s Circle scholarships are also eligible to received $4,000 awards through the Race For Education’s Assets For Independence Program.

 

Congratulations to the following 2017 recipients:

Sarah Appleby, University of Wisconsin

Renee Baumann, Oregon State University

Ana Caruso, Texas A&M University

Amanda Craven, University of Wisconsin

Chloe Evetts, University of Florida

Esther Farber, North Carolina State University

Christina Frost, Washington State University

Devin Gardner, University of Missouri

Melanie Harness, University of Guelph

Olivia Hegedus, Ohio State University

Zachary Hulbert, Auburn University

Katherine Larson, Mississippi State University

Michala Lindley, Washington State University

Caitlin Malik, Louisiana State University

Amy McBirney, University of California Davis

Mariah Melin, University of Minnesota

Logan Metzen, Iowa State University

Allison Mustonen, Purdue University

Haley O’Connell, Ross University

Kirstie Oswald, University of Saskatchewan

Callayn  Paul, Michigan State University

Jenetta Porter, Iowa State University

Jessica Quigley, Tuskegee University

Shelbe Rice, University of Georgia

Kaitlyn Rigby, Kansas State University

Rachel Roberson, Auburn University

Allison Salinger, Western University of Health Sciences

Madison Skelton, Midwestern University

Jason Smith, Virginia-Maryland College

Kelsey Stoner, Washington State University

Cally Webster, Ohio State University

Hanum Wensil-Strow, University of Pennsylvania

Emma Winstead, Tufts University

 

About AAEP Foundation

The AAEP Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization created in 1994, serves as the charitable arm of the American Association of Equine Practitioners to improve the welfare of the horse. Since its inception, the Foundation has disbursed more than $3.7 million to support its mission. For more information, visit www.aaepfoundation.org.

 

About The Race For Education

Since its’ inception in 2002, The Race For Education has delivered more than $6 million in scholarships and educational programs. Through academic development programs, tutoring, internships, financial literacy training and scholarships; The Race for Education provides opportunities for educational success for young people with significant financial need and academic challenges. The ultimate goal is to ensure our young people become successful in life and assets to their community. For additional information about The Race for Education, visit www.raceforeducation.org.

 

About Platinum Performance

Platinum Performance® believes in the power of nutrition and supplementation, and remains committed to providing formulas that produce superior results in the horse. Over the past several decades, Platinum has continued to research the role of nutrition with regards to wellness and performance and is committed to providing equine veterinarians, horse owners and trainers the nutritional tools they need to benefit from cutting edge equine nutrition. Horse Health is the Platinum Performance Mission and we look forward to helping you NOURISH YOUR PASSION. Find more at www.platinumperformance.com.

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Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory Announces Free App

The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL), is pleased to announce our free mobile app is available to download for both Android (Play Store) and iOS (Apple iTunes store) devices.
The TVMDL mobile app gives you the ability to search for diagnostic tests and get laboratory information.
Test information includes:
– A detailed description of the test.
– Specimens needed for testing.
– How to package and ship specimens safely.
– Pricing information.
– Test schedules and expected turnaround times.
Laboratory information includes:
– Link to driving directions to all four locations.
– TVMDL contact information.
– Billing and physical addresses for sending specimens.
– Hours of operation.
Coming soon – retrieval of test result reports

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AAEP Announces 2017 Education Opportunities for Equine Veterinarians and Students

Equine practitioners can invest in practical veterinary knowledge in diverse areas of equine medicine through a slate of continuing education events in 2017, sponsored by the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

The schedule includes two Focus meetings, which present the latest evidence-based knowledge within a specific area of medicine; a 360° meeting that combines lectures and wet labs into an intensive “boot camp” experience; and the 63rd Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

360° Diagnosing, Imaging and Treating the Hind Suspensory and Stifle: Everything You Need or Want to Know: July 9-12 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. Meeting sponsors are Boehringer Ingelheim, Dechra Veterinary Products and Sound

In sport horses, hind suspensory and stifle injuries are common but often underdiagnosed. At the AAEP’s 360° Diagnosing, Imaging and Treating the Hind Suspensory and Stifle, you’ll go from “how to” to “can do” with interactive, small-group training that employs a holistic approach to identifying and resolving lameness in these areas.

 

Focus on Colic/Focus on DentistryJuly 16-18 at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington, Ky. Sponsorship provided by Arenus and KEMIN, platinum level sponsors.

Increase your knowledge and ability to diagnose and manage the No.1 killer of horses at AAEP’s Focus on Colic. This meeting is a three-day exploration into the latest evidence-based knowledge to enable practitioners to assess abdominal pain, employ appropriate techniques and manage the condition medically and surgically.

Focus on Dentistry is an in-depth look at equine dental care—providing practitioners the means to perform a thorough oral exam, recognize oral pathologies, develop treatment plans, perform routine dental care and be introduced to advanced dental therapies.

Focus on Dentistry and Focus on Colic will be held jointly, allowing registrants to attend sessions of both meetings for one registration fee.  

 

Focus on StudentsJuly 15-18 at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington, Ky. Sponsorship provided by Arenus and KEMIN, platinum level sponsors.

Future horse doctors will gain hands on experience through clinical dry labs combined with professional development and career networking. Students will also attend sessions of Focus on Colic and Focus on Dentistry.

 

63rd Annual Convention: Nov. 17-21 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas

Anchored by more than 100 hours of CE, the world’s largest education event for equine veterinarians returns to the always-popular city of San Antonio to deliver the latest clinical knowledge in veterinary medicine.

 

To view the complete program for the 360° and Focus meetings or to register, visit https://aaep.org/meetings. The program and registration for the annual convention will be available this summer.

 

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.

 

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Think Before You Reach for an NSAID for Your Horse

Why You Should Consider Reaching Out to Your Veterinarian Before Reaching for an NSAID.
Equine lameness seems to happen at the most inopportune times, and it’s one of the main reasons for removing a horse from athletic activity. When lameness appears, horse owners are often quick to reach for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). In fact, a survey found 82 percent of horse owners use NSAIDs without consulting their veterinarian.1 But that may not be the smart move.

“It’s important for horse owners to consult their veterinarian before giving an NSAID,” says Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, MS, Senior Manager, Merial Large Animal Veterinary Services. “The best option – and the shortest path back to soundness – may be a medication, treatment or protocol the horse owner hasn’t considered.”

“In addition, no medication is without risks,” says Cheramie. “Your veterinarian is the best person to help you monitor your horse’s health for potential side effects or lack of efficacy. Keeping your veterinarian involved, even if it’s just informing them of your treatment decision, will provide them with important information in the future if the issue comes up again.”

Your equine veterinarian considers many factors before prescribing any treatment, including an NSAID:

  • What is the horse’s history?
  • Is the diagnosis a simple lameness or could it be something else?
  • What treatment options are available?
  • What is the horse owner’s budget and resources?

If your veterinarian does recommend an NSAID, they’ll take into consideration:

  • Has this horse been given this medication before?
  • What dosage should the horse receive, and what is the best route of administration?
  • What are the potential side effects of the treatment or medication?

The decision-making process can be complex, which is why most equine NSAIDs are available only with a prescription. If for some reason your horse does have a reaction or fails to improve, ensuring your veterinarian is fully aware of the situation will be a benefit.

Regardless of discipline, when your horse is lame, it can impact not only your short-term competitive goals but also your horse’s long-term health. So, before you reach for that old tube or bottle, talk to your veterinarian about all of your options to help effectively manage lameness, pain and inflammation in your horse.

1Andrews F, McConnico R. Cause for concern: Evidence that therapeutic dosing of nonselective NSAIDs contributes to gastrointestinal injury. Equine Vet Education. 2009;21(12):663-664.
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AAEP Foundation Announces Funding of Research into Laminitis

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Foundation has announced financial support for two research projects investigating support limb laminitis, in which lameness in one limb results in laminitis in the opposite limb. Subsequent separation of the coffin bone from the hoof wall causes pain and eventually displacement, either coffin bone rotation or sinking, in the foot.

AAEP members have identified laminitis as the most important equine disease requiring research. Support limb laminitis was the type of laminitis 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro succumbed to while healing from a severe fracture in a hind limb.

In one study, Hana Galantino-Homer, VMD, Ph.D., Dipl. ACT, at the University of Pennsylvania will investigate the alterations that occur in the protein structure that supports the bone to the hoof connection. Foot specimens from horses affected by support limb laminitis will be used to study how nutrient deprivation and subsequent production of abnormal proteins (keratins) affect the support structures within the hoof. The goal is to understand the process of cell pathology in the foot to better predict, diagnose and treat support limb laminitis.

The second study, led by Samantha Brooks, Ph.D., at the University of Florida, seeks to understand the response of the cells in the support structures within the hoof. By utilizing RNA sequencing, genes that respond to the abnormal support in the foot will be identified and compared to normal feet. Understanding the gene upregulation will help identify the process within the hoof that leads to support failure. The research will use real-time PCR to identify the production of inflammatory mediators and enzymes involved with the pathology.

“The generosity of many enabled us to fund these projects that will advance the knowledge and help unravel the mysteries surrounding this insidious disease,” said Jeff Berk, VMD, chairman of the AAEP Foundation Advisory Council. “We are particularly grateful to Starlight Racing partners, whose matching funds challenge in 2014 in memory of its Grade II winner Intense Holiday raised awareness and much-needed funds for the fight.”

Both studies will utilize the Laminitis Discovery Database at the University of Pennsylvania, which has specimens from horses that succumbed to support limb laminitis and from normal horses. The database includes a wealth of information about the affected horses.

For more information about the AAEP Foundation, visit www.aaepfoundation.org.

The AAEP Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization created in 1994, serves as the charitable arm of the American Association of Equine Practitioners to improve the welfare of the horse. Since its inception, the Foundation has disbursed more than $3.7 million to support its mission.

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How to Protect Your Horse from West Nile Virus Infection

By Kristen Browning-Blas
Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Late summer is peak transmission season for West Nile Virus, and confirmed cases are rising among horses in many regions.
Veterinarians and public health experts urge owners to protect their horses by reducing mosquito populations and possible breeding areas. Equine veterinarians at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital say two important methods will help protect horses against West Nile Virus infection: reduce exposure to mosquitoes and vaccinate against the virus.

Reduce exposure to mosquitoes
• When possible, stall horses during peak mosquito activity, at dawn and dusk.
• Eliminate areas of standing or stagnant water on property, dispose of discarded tires, and change birdbath water and water in tanks for horses at least weekly.
• Use fans on horses while stabled.
• Use insect repellants designed for horses. A fly sheet and fly mask will minimize your horse’s exposure to mosquitoes.
• Use incandescent bulbs around the perimeter of the stable.
• Remove any dead birds found on the property, as birds are part of the virus cycle. To pick up a bird, use rubber gloves or a plastic bag turned inside out. For information on testing of birds for West Nile Virus, contact your public health office.

Vaccinations for West Nile Virus
There are currently four licensed vaccine formulations available for use in horses based on efficacy and safety studies for protection against West Nile Virus. “West Nile is one of our core vaccines, so most people vaccinate here,” said Dr. Luke Bass, a veterinarian with CSU’s Equine Field Service. The American Association of Equine Practitioners recognizes the West Nile Virus vaccine as a core vaccination for all horses regardless of geographic location.
Though the West Nile Virus vaccine is commonly used in horses, vaccination is just one part of the preventive strategy; methods to reduce mosquito exposure should be employed at the same time. Vaccination against other causes of equine encephalitis (eastern equine encephalitis, western equine encephalitis, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis) does not protect your horse against West Nile Virus.
The initial West Nile vaccination or booster vaccine must be given prior to exposure to the virus and your horse should be vaccinated well in advance of mosquito season. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best vaccination protocol for your horse depending on previous vaccination history and virus and mosquito activity.

Vaccinations for the pregnant mare
It is important to consult your veterinarian to determine the best method of protection against West Nile Virus for broodmares. Several of the West Nile vaccines have been given to pregnant mares without observed adverse outcomes. As a general recommendation, reproductive specialists suggest avoiding vaccines of any kind in the first 40 days of pregnancy.

Diagnosis and treatment of West Nile Virus
Clinical signs of West Nile infection include fever, incoordination, muscle twitching, head pressing, hyper-excitability, anorexia, lethargy, recumbency (lying down), and death.
Diagnosis of West Nile Virus is made by noting the clinical signs and by positive diagnostic tests on blood or cerebrospinal fluid.
Treatment is primarily supportive, with anti-inflammatory drugs and fluids. Some horses may require hospitalization and assistance with a sling in order to remain standing. Products that provide antibodies to West Nile Virus are available, and the use of these products in equine cases should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Frequently asked questions:
Should I vaccinate my horse for West Nile Virus?

Yes, work with your veterinarian to determine the optimal plan for your horse.
Can I vaccinate my mare if she is in foal?
Yes, work with your veterinarian to determine the optimal plan for your mare.
How old should a foal be to receive the vaccine?
Recent research has shown that foals 3 months of age can be safely vaccinated against West Nile, and will subsequently build an immune response. If your foals are in a high-mosquito area, you may want to vaccinate them as early as 3 months for this disease.
Can a horse infected with West Nile Virus infect horses in neighboring stalls or infect me?
No, the virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, not by contact with an ill horse.
Find current information on West Nile Virus here:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
American Mosquito Control Association
American Association of Equine Practitioners

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