Skip to content

Kentucky Ag Commissioner Encourages Horse Owners to Vaccinate For West Nile Virus



Lexington, Kentucky - A large mosquito infestation is expected in Kentucky this year after a rainy spring. Mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus, and Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer encourages horse owners to talk to their veterinarians about vaccinating their horses for the virus.

"Since 2003, no horses known to have been properly vaccinated have gotten West Nile in Kentucky," Commissioner Farmer said. "Kentucky had 513 equine cases of West Nile in 2002, the first full year the virus was active in Kentucky, and 137 horses died. Since then, vaccination has become much more common, and the number of cases of West Nile has fallen sharply."

Historically, West Nile Virus begins showing up in Kentucky horses in July. The number of cases usually increases throughout the summer before peaking in mid-September.

West Nile was first identified in Kentucky’s equine population in the fall of 2001. A total of 683 horses have been diagnosed with the disease in Kentucky in the past 10 years.

The virus mainly affects horses, humans and birds, but dogs and cats also are susceptible. It causes encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. About two out of every three horses that become infected survive.

Commissioner Farmer recommends that property owners take action to eliminate areas of standing water, which serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Property owners are advised to:

Change water every week in bird baths, pet bowls, wading pools and watering troughs;

Keep ponds free of vegetation and stocked with fish; and

Destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture sprays for mosquitoes when asked by local officials. The insecticides are rigorously tested and degrade quickly. To see a spraying schedule and for more information on the program, go to the Department’s website, www.kyagr.com, click on Pest and Weed Programs, and click on Mosquito Control.

The risk of severe illness in humans due to West Nile Virus is slight. Young children, adults over age 50, and those with weak immune systems are at greatest risk for contracting the virus. To reduce the chance of infection, the Kentucky Department for Public Health advises people to stay indoors at dawn, early evening, and dusk if possible; wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat when outdoors; and apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picardin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

More Stories

  • **Updated Event Cancellations

    Saddle Horse Report will provide daily updates to the list of canceled and postponed horse events. Read More
  • From the Desk of Marty Schaffel: Change Is Not Easy

    Robert Samuelson is a well-respected columnist on topics of economics and human behavior. He has been writing since the early ’70s.  He wrote his farewell column this week, and I excerpted the above quotation from him... Read More
  • CH Fiasco Succumbs to Heart Failure

    CH Fiasco, the first ever Western Country Pleasure World’s Champion of Champions died of heart failure September 13th at Michael Craghead Stables in Fresno, California. The big, beautiful bay gelding set the standard for the Western country pleasure division with Doug Glick. Read More
  • UPHA Update

    COVID-19 has caused many changes in our world and has had a significant impact on our sport. We have all learned to wear our face coverings, practice social distancing and elbow bump instead of shaking hands or giving hugs. It has been a steep learning curve, but our equine industry has risen to the challenge and prevailed when many other sports have faltered. Read More
  • UPHA/American Royal National Championship Horse Show Update

    With concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of our guests, community members, volunteers, and our employees is our top priority. We are working to make sure our operations will run smoothly and safely for all our attendees at the 2020 UPHA/American Royal National Championship Horse Show in November.  Read More
  • Osteen Captures the All American Action

    Rick Osteen, official photographer at the All American Horse Classic, has proofs available online at www.rickosteen.com and despite not being able to set up his viewing table he and wife Joni are fulfilling orders as quickly as possible. Read More
  • Rock Creek Cancelled

    The Board of Directors of the Rock Creek Riding Club regret to announce that they have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s show.  We had high hopes that rescheduling the traditional June show for October would allow us to do justice to the Rock Creek tradition even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read More
  • American Saddlebred Museum Accepting Consignments

    The American Saddlebred Museum is pleased to accept consignments for the next Equine Art, Antique, and Rare Book Auction taking place in July 2021. To prepare for this much loved event, the Museum is accepting consignments until February 1, 2021. Read More
  • Latest Issue 9 14 20 Insert

    Read More
  • Latest Issue 9 14 20 Main

    Read More