Although horses remain by far the species most susceptible to the West Nile virus (WNV), human cases also rose sharply in 2002, and the WNV infection was confirmed in squirrels, reindeer, mountain goats, sheep, wolf, dogs – even black bears, a seal and more.
However, the most disturbing findings were that WNV can be transmitted in breast milk and that an infant born to a woman who contracted WNV during her pregnancy was born with central nervous system problems believed linked to the virus. There’s also an ewe infected during pregnancy that gave birth to twins, one normal and one with central nervous system deformities.
The risk for foals from mares infected during pregnancy is unknown, but it would be wise to discuss these findings with your veterinarian and ask him or her to speak with your state’s diagnostic lab in advance of the foaling to determine if testing would be available for these foals, provided the foals appear to have a West-Nile-type problem.
In the peak season of autumn, new West Nile cases were rising at a rate of 500 to 1,000 per week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It spread like wildfire to the Rocky Mountains, with a handful of isolated cases turning up west of the Rocky Mountains.
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