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Horses Infected with West Nile Virus in France

08 September 2015

FRANCE - Horse have been suffering from West Nile Fever on two horse farms in France.

West Nile fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease that can affect birds, humans and horses causing inapparent infection, mild febrile illness, meningitis, encephalitis, or death.

A three-year-old Lusitano horse on the first farm in Bouches-du-Rhone showed neurological signs including ataxia, consciousness disorders and decubitus, starting from 11 August 2015.

The accredited veterinarian of the farm came on 17 August and, following the clinical signs observed, took samples for West Nile virus. Since the signs got worse, the horse was euthanised on 19 August.

This equine was in a farm with around 60 Lusitano horses. To date, two other horses are suspected of West Nile fever, and tests are being performed.

A three-year-old Anglo-Arabian mare was affected on the other farm in Gard. The horse showed neurological signs including behavioural disorders and decubitus associated with a marked hyperthermia starting on 17 August 2015.

The veterinarian came the same day and, following the clinical signs observed, took samples for West Nile virus. The horse began having convulsions and so was euthanised on 17 August.

This equine was in a farm with 19 horses of Anglo-Arabian and Selle français breeds. To date, no other equine in the farm has showed clinical signs. Samples have been taken from all animals.

Both the farms with the animals affected by West Nile fever are situated in the outskirts of the Camargue National Park.

Under the terms of a by-law, the farms have been declared infected and are subjected to the following measures:

  • inventory of all animals of susceptible species;
  • ban on movements of infected animals or animals suspected of having viral encephalitis;
  • epidemiological investigation (clinical data, origin of infection);
  • application of authorised insecticides to equidae and premises, if necessary;
  • clinical monitoring by an accredited veterinarian.

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