Horse owners in Iowa are being warned to have their animals vaccinated A-S-A-P against the West Nile Virus. Spring has arrived and soon, so will mosquitoes, which carry the potential killer virus. State veterinarian Dr. John Schiltz says West Nile was confirmed in 2001 in eastern Iowa.An infected crow was found last year in Scott County near Davenport. Dr. Schiltz says the disease can infect humans, birds and horses, but NOT other livestock. West Nile is fatal in about a quarter of all horses that get it. Symptoms include a lack of appetite, lack of coordination and eventually convulsions, coma and death. There were more than 400 cases of -equine- West Nile Virus reported in the U-S last year, though none in Iowa. Schiltz says one horse -did- die in Cherokee County last fall of a similar disease. The vaccines need to be given in two spaced doses, so the shots need to be given to Iowa horses now before mosquito season really hits.Seven people died from West Nile Virus in the New York area in 1999 and there were more than 60 cases of severe illness. It’s especially dangerous for older people, very young people and those with weak immune systems.
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