Oregon County residents who have not had their horses vaccinated against the West Nile virus should realize it is probably too late to do so.
This is information given by Dr. Roger Shaw III, veterinarian at Eleven Point Equine Clinic, after preliminary blood tests show a horse in Howell County at South Fork contracted the West Nile virus. South Fork is located about 10 miles southwest of West Plains. The horse is alive and is being treated and Shaw said it will likely recover.
The veterinarian said without tests of the brain a confirmed positive cannot be given for the disease and since the horse is still alive that test can't be done.
He said the blood test on the horse did show positive and showed all the symptoms of the West Nile virus disease.
At this time there is no specific treatment for the disease and it has not showed up in any humans in Missouri.
It is believed to be carried by mosquitoes.
There is a horse vaccination for the disease but it takes about six weeks for the vaccine to become effective. A booster shot is given three to six weeks after the first shot and this is the one that really provides protection, according to state health department said.
Oregon County Health Department officials said defensive measures that can be taken to protect horses include spraying repellent on the horses as well as spraying insecticide in any enclosed stable areas. Ridding the area of any stagnant water will help, including getting rid of old tires and any type of container that might hold standing water and draw mosquitoes.
As of press time 32 people in Missouri have been tested for the virus but no cases have been confirmed. Ten horses have tested positive for the disease and two of those horses have died.