Michigan's first 2021 case of West Nile virus confirmed in horse

Michigan's first case of West Nile virus this year was confirmed last month in a horse from Midland County.

RELATED: West Nile virus found in mosquitoes in Troy

A 28-year-old Quarter Horse mare became ill with a sudden onset of neurologic disease July 15. The horse was euthanized.

"With the discovery of WNV in a Michigan horse, this signals that the virus is circulating again in the state," said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland. "Its presence underscores the need to take all the necessary steps to protect animals from this disease."

The virus has also been detected in five wild birds in four Michigan counties – Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, and Ingham – so far this year. 

 In 2020, there were no cases of the virus in domestic animals, and there was one case of the disease in a Lapeer County horse in 2019.

Tips were provided to help owners protect their animals:

  • Talk to their veterinarian about vaccinating their horses against WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses like Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). There are highly effective, safe vaccines available.
  • House their livestock in a barn under fans (as mosquitoes are not strong flyers) during peak mosquito activity from dusk to dawn.
  • Use insect repellant on animals that is approved for the species.
  • Eliminate standing water on the property—i.e., fill in puddles, repair eaves, and change the water in buckets and bowls at least once a day.
  • Contact a veterinarian if an animal shows signs of the illness: mild fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, weakness, stumbling, tremors, and a droopy lip and/or head tilt. Please also note that various mosquito-borne diseases are reportable to MDARD. Cases can be reported by completing and submitting a Reportable Disease Form to MIReportableAnimal@Michigan.gov.