The first case of West Nile virus (WNV) in an equine in Kentucky this year was reported on Aug. 20. The diagnostic testing was conducted by the University of Kentucky's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, formerly the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center.

The 5-year-old Thoroughbred mare in Taylor County began to show symptoms on Aug. 12. Symptoms included hypersensitive to touch and mild ataxia. The mare was referred to an area equine hospital where she "responded favorably to treatment with full recovery anticipated," according to a statement from Rusty Ford, equine programs manager at the state veterinarian's office.

West Nile Virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. When a mosquito bites or feeds on the horse, the virus is injected into its bloodstream. Clinical symptoms can include ataxia or stumbling and incoordination; depression or apprehension; weakness of limbs; partial paralysis or the inability to stand; muscle twitching; or death.

The mare had not been vaccinated for West Nile Virus. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture website has been updated to reflect the first case in 2010. Last year, there were eight cases diagnosed in Kentucky.

Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.

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