Horses become infected with the West Nile virus after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Horse owners can reduce the likelihood of exposure to mosquitoes by eliminating standing water and by implementing pest management practices on their farm. Symptoms of infection in horses include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs
- Impaired vision
- Head tilt
- Aimless wandering
Horse owners should quickly contact their veterinarian to examine their horses and test for the disease if they believe it is present. An equine vaccine for protection against disease from the West Nile virus infection was made available to Pennsylvania veterinarians in September of 2001.
The West Nile virus can infect certain types of wild birds. These birds serve as the natural reservoir for the West Nile virus. The infected birds, especially crows, can die from the infection because they seem to be highly sensitive to the virus. Therefore, dead birds or an overall decline in bird populations is a possible indicator of West Nile virus in an area. Citizens are encouraged to report and submit dead birds seen around their property or elsewhere to The Adams County Conservation District.
The birds that are most likely to carry the disease, and therefore are the only species being tested currently are:
For more information regarding where birds can be dropped off in your area, please call the Adams County Conservation District at (717)-334-0636 or go online at Report a Dead Bird.