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Can horses be clinically screened for West Nile Fever?
  1. G. van Galen, DVM, PhD, Dipl ECEIM1,2,
  2. L. Calozet, DVM1,2,
  3. A. Leblond, DVM, PhD, Dipl ECEIM3,4,
  4. P. Tritz, DVM4,
  5. F. Dal Pozzo, PhD1,
  6. S. R. Porter, DVM, PhD4,5,
  7. A. B. Cay6,
  8. H. Amory, DVM, PhD, Dipl ECEIM2 and
  9. C. Saegerman, DVM, PhD, Dipl ECVPH1
  1. 1Research Unit of Epidemiology and Risk Analysis applied to veterinary science (UREAR-ULg), Department of Infectious and Parasitic diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium
  2. 2Equine Clinic, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium
  3. 3UR 346 Animal Epidemiology INRA Theix, Vetagrosup, Equine Department, University of Lyon, Lyon, France
  4. 4Réseau d'Epidémio-Surveillance en Pathologie Equine, Mondeville, France
  5. 5Veterinary Clinic of Faulquemont, Faulquemont, France
  6. 6CODA – CERVA, Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre, Brussels, Belgium;
  1. E-mail for correspondence: claude.saegerman{at}ulg.ac.be, gaby{at}equinespecialists.eu

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In Europe, the frequency of West Nile Fever (WNF) outbreaks in horses and/or human beings is on the increase, especially in mid-eastern and southern Europe (Dauphin and others 2004, Rabel and others 2011). However, in several western European countries no activity of the virus has been detected so far, for example, in The Netherlands (Rockx and others 2006), Belgium and the UK (Morgan 2006)). However, considering the presence of migratory birds and suitable vectors in those countries, and the reports of changing epidemiology of the virus (Petersen and Marfin 2005, Blitvich 2008), the West Nile virus (WNV) is a genuine threat. Horses are considered good sentinels for WNV infection surveillance (Petersen and Marfin 2005) by the use of syndromic surveillance followed by laboratory confirmation. Syndromic surveillance aims at early identification of disease clusters before laboratory confirmation, thereby reducing morbidity and mortality (Leblond and others 2007). Clinical signs of WNF in horses are, however, difficult to distinguish from those of other neurological diseases (Leblond and others 2007, Porter and others 2011).

The aim of this study was to identify clinical variables that could be indicators for WNF in horses, which will be attempted …

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