Equine alert issued for mosquito-borne disease
The Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) has been notified of a horse in the Adelaide Hills that has clinical signs consistent with West Nile Virus-Kunjin (WNV/KUN) strain.
These viruses are transmitted by mosquitoes and on rare occasions can cause serious disease in both humans and horses.
Initial testing could not determine if the antibody was from a recent infection or an infection that may have been years ago.
However, additional testing is being undertaken in a bid to determine if the infection was recent.
WNV/KUN infection is spread by mosquito bites. There is no animal-to-animal spread. There is no specific treatment for WNV/KUN infection and no vaccine to prevent infection.
Given the current summer is wetter and warmer than usual, causing ideal condition for mosquitos, PIRSA are notifying horse owners and veterinarians of this unconfirmed case and encouraging them to be alert for other potential cases.
In January SA Health warned the community to avoid exposure to mosquitoes, following the detection of the potentially deadly Murray Valley Encephalitis Virus and Kunjin virus during routine monitoring involving sentinel chickens at Meningie.
Horse owners should consider what actions they can take to manage mosquitoes on their property including removal or treatment of any potential mosquito breeding areas, such as pot plants or water tanks.
Additionally, horse owners can undertake measures such as rugging them in the evening and mornings when the insects are at their highest numbers and the use of an insecticide to help reduce mosquito bites.
While the majority of WNV/KUN virus infections cause no clinical signs or a very mild disease occasionally it can cause a severe neurological disease in horses.
If a horse is showing any unusual symptoms, a veterinarian should be contacted for advice and can organise testing should they suspect WNV.
More details about horse health is available at http://pir.sa.gov.au/horse-health