West Nile kills local horse

The recent death of a horse should serve as a warning that West Nile Virus is active in the Red Deer area, say veterinarians.

The recent death of a horse should serve as a warning that West Nile Virus is active in the Red Deer area, say veterinarians.

Dr. Marcos Lores, a partner in the Alberta Veterinary Centre has issued a statement announcing that a horse treated at his practice had succumbed on Aug. 31 to the disease, which is carried by infected mosquitoes.

It is one of only three horses affected in Alberta this year. There were none reported last year.

Lores was not available for comment on Tuesday. However, another veterinarian who works with him said the horse died of the severe, neurological form of the disease, which affects both horses and people.

Dr. Charlotte MacFarlane said people may feel safe now that the weather has cooled. However, she and her partners are cautioning people to continue their vigilance to protect themselves and their horses from the disease, including having the horses vaccinated against the virus.

It is not to late to begin the vaccination regimen for horses, including an initial shot followed by a booster in three to six weeks.

Once the horses have had their first shots, the West Nile vaccine can be included with their annual shots, said MacFarlane. Any vaccines delivered now will still offer protection at the start of the season next year, she said.

At roughly $40 per horse, the vaccine is relatively inexpensive protection against a disease that can cost thousands of dollars to treat, said MacFarlane.

Dr. Gerald Hauer, chief provincial veterinarian for Alberta, said he has received confirmation so far of two other cases of West Nile disease in horses so far this year after having none reported at all in 2011.

The other two cases were at Barrhead and Edmonton, said Hauer.

One of the horses has recovered while the other died, he said.

Reports of the disease typically start to arrive during the period from mid-August to late November, indicating that some mosquitoes remain active despite colder temperatures and overnight frosts, said Hauer.

It is possible that they are surviving in protected areas such as barns, he said.

Hauer joined MacFarlane in stating that owners can protect their animals by limiting exposure to the disease as much as possible and by ensuring that their horses’ immunity systems are in good order, including keeping the horses vaccinated and dewormed and providing proper nourishment.

Humans should also do everything they can to avoid mosquito bites, said Dr. Digby Horne, one of three medical officers of health for the Alberta Health Services Central Zone.

Horne said there has been only one report of the disease affecting humans in the Central Zone so far this year and that the likelihood of more infections will reduce with colder weather.

However, he also stated that some mosquitoes may survive the cold and that it takes just one bite to pick up an infection.

Horne said some people can be infected without experiencing any signs while others may experience headache and fever. Medical attention should be sought as soon as possible for anyone who experiences signs of the neurological form, including tingling in a limb, loss of balance and paralysis.

So far, Horne said he has heard no indication of a vaccine for humans.

West Nile is transferred by mosquitoes that have picked up the virus from infected birds. The mosquitoes do not pass the disease between infected horses or humans.

Alberta Health Services was to slated to release an update today of the status of the disease within the province, said Horne.

Just Posted

Rebels drop home opener to Oil Kings

The Edmonton Oil Kings were simply better than the Red Deer Rebels… Continue reading

Diesel spilled in Penhold neighbourhood

Penhold Fire Department responded

House fire in Penhold

Damage estimated at $30,000

Red Deer Players host play reading for public

Audience feedback for playwright

Sylvan Lake cleanup cancelled

Weather prompts cancellation

RDC Kings topple Medicine Hat College Rattlers

Kings Matheus Alves scores twice in the win

Nurse leads Canada over South Korea 82-63 at FIBA Women’s World Cup

TENERIFE, Spain — Kia Nurse poured in 29 points to lift Canada… Continue reading

Aretha Franklin exhibit debuts with eye toward her legacy

DETROIT — The Detroit museum that hosted Aretha Franklin’s public visitations after… Continue reading

‘Anaana’s Tent’ passes Inuit songs, legends, language to a new generation

In Pangnirtung, Nunavut, on the eastern tip of Baffin Island, Rita Claire… Continue reading

Housing data decision opens door to real estate innovation, say realtors

TORONTO — Realtor Daniel Steinfeld has wanted to post home sales data… Continue reading

Ty Long kicks winning field goal, Lions come back to beat Ticats in OT

VANCOUVER — Ty Long was eager for a special moment, and he… Continue reading

Indigenous eateries take centre stage in Canada thanks to increasing awareness

VANCOUVER — Since Paul Natrall started serving Indigenous cuisine from his Mr.… Continue reading

Canada’s capital region reeling after intense tornado rips through communities

OTTAWA — Parts of Canada’s national capital were still reeling Saturday after… Continue reading

Coaches, players on Alberta university rugby team buckle up for the Broncos

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — The head coach of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns… Continue reading

Most Read