On October 24, a new West Nile virus (WNV) case was confirmed in Palm Beach County, Florida in a donkey, according to a Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) alert today.
The animal had no vaccine history and was imported from a Louisiana auction into Florida on October 16 with no clinical signs. Clinical signs began on October 18 and currently the donkey is recovering.
This is the first confirmed WNV case in Palm Beach County and the second confirmed case in Florida for 2016 (in a horse). Given the travel history and incubation period for WNV, the donkey most likely did not acquire WNV in Palm Beach County.
West Nile Virus is regularly found in the United States, and birds serve as the primary host of the disease. Infected mosquitoes can transmit the virus from birds and then carry it to horses or people. The virus can cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Infected horses may or may not show neurological symptoms and many recover completely, especially with annual vaccinations.
Vaccines for horses are widely available and have been proven to be effective in preventing infection.