[AgriLife Today] Texas horse owners encouraged to vaccinate in preventing mosquito-borne neurologic diseases

Dr. Terry Hensley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service veterinarian and Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory assistant agency director in College Station, advises horse owners to work with their veterinarians and vaccinate against the core diseases: West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis and western equine encephalitis. Hensley said the American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends vaccinating for these three diseases along with rabies and tetanus. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

By: Blair Fannin

Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu

Contact: Dr. Terry Hensley,979-862-3202, thensley@tvmdl.tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – Texas horse owners are urged to have their animals vaccinated to fend off the threat of West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis.

Dr. Terry Hensley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service veterinarian and Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory assistant agency director in College Station, said horse owners can easily unintentionally overlook annual vaccinations.

“Some don’t realize the importance of vaccinations,” Hensley said. “We all get busy and sometimes simply forget to have them vaccinated, or some horse owners are looking to save a few dollars and fail to have it done. However, for these diseases there’s no cure. You can treat the symptoms, but there’s no cure. Mosquitoes are transmitting these diseases. You can be 10 miles from the nearest other horse, but it’s the mosquitoes that are moving it.”

Hensley advises horse owners to work with their veterinarians and vaccinate against the core diseases: West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis and western equine encephalitis. Hensley said the American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends vaccinating for these three diseases along with rabies and tetanus.

“A proper vaccination program is one of the most cost effective preventative health measures that an owner can do,” Hensley said.

In 2015, he said, Texas experienced a high number of West Nile cases in the western part of the state as well as the Panhandle and Gulf Coast regions. Cases of eastern equine encephalitis were reported in Southeast Texas, particularly in bayou areas where there are large amounts of standing water that can harbor mosquito populations.

“Overall, we are simply advising horse owners to work with a veterinarian to develop a health program that includes the core vaccines,” he said. “A few dollars spent on vaccines are the best dollars spent in health prevention.”

For more information on the laboratory’s neurologic testing, visit http://tvmdl.tamu.edu or phone 888-646-5623.

-30-