West Nile: It’s War
Activity was picking up rapidly in the season for mosquito-borne viral disease at the end of July in areas around New York City where the West Nile virus hit last year. And, as we went to press, dead crows in the Boston, Mass., area and Onondaga County in Upstate New York tested positive for West Nile.
No human or equine cases had been confirmed. However, 43 dead birds have tested positive for the virus in New York and New Jersey. Dead bird counts were high in Connecticut, although none tested positive yet.
Total counts of dead birds for Nassau County on Long Island and Westchester County north of the city is over 2,000 each this year. In contrast, northern New York counties that didn’t experience West Nile last year reported around 100 dead birds.
Spraying has begun in several areas to augment the larvicide poured in water earlier in the year and the effort to reduce breeding areas, which is any shallow area that can hold water for more than a week.
West Nile killed seven humans and 16 horses in and around New York City last fall. All the equine deaths were in Suffolk County on Long Island. Suffolk County has been monitoring the area where horses were affected and applying mosquito larvicide. So far, no positive mosquitoes have been collected in that exact area.
West-Nile fatality for humans is relatively low, about 10 percent, but mortality for horses is closer to 50 percent. The course is rapid, with severe cases dying within three days.
Protect your family and your horses by removing any objects that may collect water, use repellent (affected mosquitoes feed around the clock), and avoid swampy and wooded areas. Your horse’s best defense is a strong immune system, so avoid unnecessary stress until after mosquito season and consider using an immune-stimulating supplement.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis
With West Nile getting so much attention, it’s easy to forget that other encephalitis viruses continue to pose a threat. The good news is that, despite virus activity early this spring in Louisiana (four equine cases by the end of May) and an unexplained death of a young horse in California from EEE (first time reported that far West), no new equine cases are reported.There are unconfirmed reports of humans contracting EEE in North Carolina, as well as reports of deaths of horses in both North Carolina and Virginia with tests pending.
The same mosquito surveillance systems used for the West Nile virus (sentinel chickens and testing of trapped mosquitoes) are used for EEE up and down the East Coast.
A richly researched and illustrated book on Olympic equestrian events has been published just in time for the Sydney Olympics. Olympic Equestrian, written by Jennifer O. Bryant, tracks the history of the Olympic equestrian events, especially U.S. involvement, back to their debut in 1912. She also includes a strong chapter on how Sydney plans to host the Games. Olympic Equestrian is available for $29.95 plus shipping by calling 800/582-5604 or through www.ExclusivelyEquine.com.
The Arabian Horse Foundation will award seven $2,000 scholarships to Youth Nationals exhibitors at the International Arabian Horse Association convention in Texas Nov. 28-Dec. 3. Criteria include academic achievement and financial need, as well as civic and equine involvement. Other scholarships are also available.
Applications must be submitted by October 1. For further information, including contributions, contact Joanna Hyatt at 603/887-4514.
Barn Fire Deaths
A barn fire caused by faulty wiring killed all 31 horses at Breakaway Farms in North Salem, N.Y., July 10. The Journal News in nearby White Plains, N.Y., reported fires in which multiple horses were killed in the past year:
July 1, 2000: Six race horses killed next to a track in Ranson, W.Va.
Apr. 16, 2000: Ten horses killed in Lake Crystal, Minn.; 20 survived.
Feb. 27, 2000: Five horses killed in Hebron, Ill.
Jan. 28, 2000: Seventeen horses killed in a riding club fire in Louisville, Ky.; 11 survived.
Jan. 28, 2000: Four horses killed in Springfield Township, Pa.; 16 survived.
Aug. 22, 1999: Four horses killed in three fires within a five-mile radius in Cleveland, Tenn.
Aug. 17, 1999: Ten Arabians killed in Mendota, Va.; one survived.