Two Perth County Horses Test Positive for West Nile Virus
Friday, October 5th, 2018
Perth County – Two horses in Perth East have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). Both horses are recovering. The Perth District Health Unit has not had a report of a horse positive for the virus since 2013, however, this serves as notice that the virus continues to circulate in the area.
West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease that normally causes only mild illness in humans. Severe complications, including meningitis and encephalitis are also possible, particularly in people over 50 years of age, and among those who have weakened immune systems.
It is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It is circulating in Ontario and has been found in mosquitoes, horses, and humans. To date this season, there have been 110 confirmed/probable human cases of West Nile virus and 305 positive mosquito pools in Ontario.
“This summer in Perth County we had mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus and now two horses have become infected, so it’s a reminder that we need to protect ourselves from mosquito bites,” says Dale Lyttle, Senior Public Health Inspector. Mosquitoes usually remain active until the first hard frost.
The Health Unit suggests the following to protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET or icardin, following the manufacturer’s instructions
- Wear light-coloured clothing, long sleeves and pants if possible when outside
- Take extra care during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active
- Remove standing water from your property where mosquitoes can breed
- Make sure your home, tents and campers have tight fitting screens on windows and doors.
The Perth District Health Unit is also reminding horse owners to remain vigilant with having their animals vaccinated against West Nile virus. Other steps to protect equine include:
- Reduce standing water sites (such as install aerators or any method that creates water surface movement in ponds)
- If possible, avoid placing horses outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
- Avoid riding horses or placing horses in areas that are favorable mosquito habitats (low wet pastures or bush areas)
- Use yellow incandescent or fluorescent lights in the barn as these are considered less attractive to mosquitoes
- Ensure that your barn has tight-fitting screens over the windows and doors
- Hire a licensed pest management company to properly assess your property and safely apply pesticides to control mosquitoes
- Carefully apply appropriate insecticides to horses according to the manufacturer’s instructions.