Mosquitos are bad news! Not only are they irritating to you and your horse, they are also carriers of some deadly and dreaded diseases – West Nile Virus and Chikungunya have both been found in the USA and are potentially fatal for any horse. Malaria is a well-known mosquito-borne illness but, alas, it’s not the only problem to be transmitted by these winged pests. Other illnesses spread by mosquitos include canine heartworm, Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis and the emerging exotic diseases Chikungunya and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus. These are not just everyday infections, they are complex and potentially fatal. Mosquito-borne infections are a continually evolving threat to horses around the world, although fortunately most of these diseases are now preventable through immunization.
One notable and increasingly common mosquito-borne condition, West Nile Virus, has only very recently become established in the USA. The first North American case was diagnosed in 1999 and the virus quickly spread to multiple mosquito species, leading to widespread distribution of the disease throughout the US. An effective preventative vaccine was released in 2001 and is now widely in use; however, as yet not everyone has adopted a regular vaccines protocol, thus leaving their horses vulnerable to this potentially deadly disease.
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