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Clinical signs of West Nile virus encephalomyelitis in horses during the outbreak in Israel in 2000
  1. A. Steinman, DVM1,
  2. G. A. Sutton, DVM, MSc1,
  3. S. Hadar, DVM1,
  4. C. Banet, DVM2,
  5. H. Yadin, DVM3 and
  6. A. Brill, DVM3
  1. 1 Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, PO Box 12, Rehovot, Israel 76100
  2. 2 Department of Avian Diseases
  3. 3 Department of Diagnostic Virology, Kimron Veterinary Institute, PO Box 12, Bet Dagan, Israel 50250


Between August and October 2000, 76 horses were reported by veterinary practitioners as having signs of a neurological disorder, varying from an involvement of the spinal cord alone to the entire central nervous system; 15 of the horses died or were euthanased as a result of their grave prognosis or secondary complications. At the same time, an outbreak of West Nile virus infection affected people and birds, principally domestic geese. West Nile virus was isolated from four of the horses with encephalomyelitis and five other horses seroconverted, indicating that the virus was the probable cause of the outbreak in horses. Three of the cases from which the virus was isolated are described briefly and one case is described in detail. This horse behaved abnormally and had general proprioceptive deficits in all four limbs. Its neurological condition deteriorated after two days and severe inspiratory dyspnoea due to a failure to abduct the arytenoids necessitated a tracheostomy. It died on the fourth day and histological lesions were observed in the brain stem and grey matter of the spinal cord.

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