The summer season brings the start of monitoring once again for West Nile Virus. The newest form of mosquito-borne encephalitis has been far more deadly to some birds and animals, especially horses, than in the human population. Sally Blount is a board member of the Iowa Horse Council. She reminds owners there’s now a vaccination for West Nile, so they should speak to their veterinarian about getting it. This year, the council’s alerting horse owners to watch out for another disease, which might pose even more danger to the health of horses. Blount says the animals are susceptible to Lyme Disease. It’s a tick-borne disease, she says, carried by the deer tick which is “a tiny mite, hard to see.” She notes that the telltale sign i humans that they’ve been infected with Lyme disease is a bulls-eye rash surrounding the site of the bite. “Well, think about it,” she points out, “You don’t see that on a horse because of the hair.” Blount says you need to inspect warm, moist places on the horse’s body for ticks. She says there are a lot of people out trail-riding in the state, “an enormous number” of them riding their horses out there. Symptoms are much like what people suffer, including arthritic symptoms. So if your horse hasn’t had trouble and begins to stumble or act like it’s a little sore, you might check it out carefully. As in people, the treatment for horses with Lyme Disease is massive doses of antibiotic.
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