Britain Remains Free From West Nile Virus

Samples from nearly 1,000 British horses revealed no presence of West Nile Virus (WNV). Transmitted by mosquitoes, West Nile Virus can cause severe neurological issues in horses; the disease has a fatality rate of about 33 percent in unvaccinated animals.

Drs. Arran Folly, Elisabeth Waller, Fiona McCracken, Lorraine McElhinney, Helen Roberts and Nicholas Johnson note that while this is good news for horse owners, they must remain vigilant in the fight against the disease. WNV is seen in many parts of the world, including the United States, southern Europe and Germany.

The researchers focused their study on southeast England, the area of Britain considered most at risk for virus introduction. The virus is most likely spread geographically by birds that have the virus; horses are a dead-end host for WNV.

Two of the 998 horses tested were positive for WNV antibodies, but upon further review, it was deemed that the antibodies were a result of vaccination for the virus within seven days of the testing.

The scientists concluded that there was no evidence of West Nile Virus transmission in England in 2019; this is in agreeance with the results of a 2019 British bird surveillance, which also found no West Nile Virus RNA in the birds.

Read the short report here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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