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West Nile Virus

Transmitted by mosquito bites, West Nile Virus (WNV) has a complicated life cycle that can also include migrating birds. It is a viral infection that is capable of causing illness in both horses and humans with potentially fatal consequences.

First found only in the West Nile district of Uganda, it has now spread to many parts of the world. There have never been any cases of WNV in Britain and, at present, it is not considered to be a greatly significant threat to our horse population.

However, there is still a chance that it could find its way to our shores. Outbreaks among horses can see up to 40% of the infected animals dying - so it is important that, if a case of WNV was to occur, it is identified and dealt with quickly to minimise its spread. For this reason it is helpful for all owners be fully aware of the signs of the virus and how to protect against it.

WNV is a notifiable disease. This means that if you suspect a horse may have it, you must immediately notify the duty vet in your local Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) office.

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