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Don't know how much help I can be but since I keep my horses on the West
Nile, I'll give it a try.  We have a Naval Medical Research unit in Cairo
that did some testing for WNV last fall when one of the horses in our stable
came down with encephalitis. The horse did test positive for WNV and oddly
enough as part of another study had been previously tested, at which point
Massaoud had tested negatively. So there is a test for it. He pulled through
just fine and recently took part in our 20 km ride. At the same time about
20 horses in our stable and a couple nearby were also tested. Virtually all
of them other than my yearling and my 2 yr old colts tested positive for the
antibodies of WNV and another encephalitis. Interestingly enough, none of us
had been aware of any of the horses being sick. We were advised at the time
that it would be best to vaccinate the horses with the Venezuelan
encephalitis vaccine as that was the most likely to provide some
protection....although it wasn't guaranteed. Many of us have done that,
though keeping horses clean and healthy seems to be the most important
thing.  What none of us know right now, and that seems to include the
research unit (I have friends there) is to what extent the virus on the east
coast of the US is the same as the one here. Here it is relatively benign
and fairly ubiquitous...I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that most of
my family has antibodies....while there it seems much more virulent. It may
be a matter of the population here being used to this sort of thing. My
advice would be to keep your horses' immunities up, vaccinate for
Venezuelan, and watch for hindquarter stiffness and a swollen sheath in a
male combined with a lack of appetite. That's what gave Massaoud away. But
the stiffness is very subtle. You really have to know your horse to be able
to tell that there is anything wrong. Here, at least, it doesn't seem to be
wildly infectious. No one else got sick when Massaoud did, unlike when the
flu ran through the stables. Good luck. Take care. Don't panic.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani
Cairo, Egypt
> No mention in the article of how it affects horses and with
> our sport being a "traveling sport" this becomes very
> ominious indeed.
> Horses are required to have a current negative coggins
> test to stop the threat of disease but will there be mandatory
> WNV testing?? There is no vaccine to immunize against it
> and how big does the threat have to be for horses before
> there will be mandatory WNV testing?
> These are real questions that need to be thought upon.
> I am not a very worldy person so I seek advise from such
> people. When and  should we make a decesion to cancel our
> ride in July??
> Do we need to encourage the states that are at risk from
> WNV to insist upon a negative WNV before horses are allowed to
> cross state lines or do we just leave the responsiblity
> to their authorities?
> I have enough paranoia for all ridecampers out there in
> ridecamp land and you really don't want me to share
> THOSE thoughts.
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