Local News

First N.C. Horse West Nile Case Confirmed

Posted September 20, 2002 11:42 a.m. EDT

— The first human case of West Nile virus was confirmed on Wednesday. The next day, North Carolina announced its first 2002 case in a horse.

There is not a human vaccination for West Nile virus, but there is for animals and local farmers have begun protecting their stock.

"What we can count on is that it's spreading and that you should be ahead of everything and go ahead and vaccinate," Glenn Petty, horse owner and North Carolina Horse Council member.

There were six West Nile virus cases in horses in 2001 and one this year; however, less than 15 percent of horses are vaccinated.

But, veterinarians expect that more horse owners will start requesting the vaccine.

"This is the West Nile vaccine that Fort Dodge got out last year. We started giving it this spring. Initially, the horse gets two doses, three to six weeks apart, and then they receive it twice a year. It's an intra-muscular vaccine. You can give it in any muscle in the body, so now this horse has had it's fall shot," said large animal veterinarian Dr. James Meyer.

Meyer charges about $20 for the vaccine.

Experts expect to see many more cases this year before the first frost kills mosquitoes for the winter.

Humans cannot contract the virus from horses. It is passed to humans and animals from mosquitoes.