WA horses struck with neurological disease
Story Added : 23rd May 2011
The disease, which is spread by infected mosquitoes and affects the neurological pathways, leads to loss of appetite, a stiff gait and loss of balance.
Department of Agriculture and Food WA animal health laboratories acting chief veterinary officer, Peter Morcombe, said the affected horses were from areas north and east of Perth and in the Goldfields.
He said Kunjin virus was commonly found in mosquitoes in the Kimberley and Pilbara and it was unusual to find horses affected by the virus outside of these areas.
“At this stage, the department does not expect to see many more cases of affected horses as mosquito numbers should decline with cooler weather,” Dr Morcombe said.
Horses with Kunjin disease are not contagious to people, other horses, or to other animals.
But horse owners are urged to be vigilant and contact authorities if their horse shows any of the above symptoms.
“Horse handlers and veterinarians are always advised to wear personal protective equipment whenever handling horses with neurological signs,” Dr Morcombe said.
“Eliminating mosquito breeding sites, trapping, housing horses between dusk and dawn, turning off lights inside stables, using fluorescent lights, screening stable windows, fogging and using fans and automatic overhead misting systems will all reduce the chance of mosquitoes biting your horses and subsequent infection,” Dr Morcombe said.
For more information on neurological disease in horses, contact the department’s animal health laboratories on (08) 9368 3351.