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First West Nile virus case confirmed in Minnesota

The state's first case of 2022 was found in a 4-year-old unvaccinated horse.

KANDIYOHI COUNTY, Minn. — The Minnesota Board of Animal Health says the first case of the West Nile virus in 2022 was confirmed in a horse from Kandiyohi County. 

The 4-year-old horse was euthanatized in late July because of "deteriorating neurologic conditions," according to a press release. Tests conducted afterward confirmed that the horse had been infected with the virus and passed away.

“This is an unfortunate, preventable, outcome from a disease we see pop up pretty much every year around this time,” Senior Veterinarian of the Equine Program Dr. Brian Hoefs said. “Horse owners and their veterinarians should keep a routine vaccination program, including West Nile virus, to reduce the risk of preventable diseases and increase the animal’s chances of recovering fully if they’re infected.”

The virus is found primarily in birds and mosquitos. Infected mosquitos can transmit the virus to people or horses, however, horses cannot transmit the disease to people or other horses. 

The MN Board of Animal Health is urging horse owners to get their horses vaccinated to protect them from the disease. They can also reduce the risk of contracting the virus elsewhere by mowing long grass, changing the horses' drinking water regularly and using mosquito repellent. 

Cases of West Nile virus found in animals must be reported to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health at 651-296-2942 or your district veterinarian

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