ST. PAUL (WJON News) - Two cases of West Nile virus in horses have been reported in Kandiyohi County.

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The Minnesota Board of Animal Health responded to both cases. One horse, a one-year-old colt, was unvaccinated and died from complications related to the disease. The other horse had recently received a West Nile virus booster and is recovering.

The horses are from different farms, and officials believe mosquitoes are moving the disease through the county.

Dr. Heather Damico is the senior veterinarian in charge of equine for the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

Vaccination is the best way to protect horses from West Nile virus. Historically, a lot of the reported cases we deal with in horses are either unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, which means they didn’t receive their annual booster shot. Vaccines can prevent infection or reduce the severity of the disease if the horse is infected.

In addition to vaccinations, horse owners can reduce the risk of the virus by:

  • Change water in drinking troughs every week.
  • Mow long grass.
  • Drain stagnant water puddles.
  • Remove items mosquitoes use for breeding grounds, like old tires and tin cans.
  • Place and maintain screens over windows and stable doors.
  • Use mosquito repellents to protect horses and people from mosquito bites.

Officials say this is the prime time for West Nile virus transmission. The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District has already reported West Nile in routine mosquito samples in several metro counties this summer.

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