• Disease prevention;
  • disease risk assessment;
  • equine;
  • West Nile virus


The objective of this study was to examine the extrinsic risk factors of West Nile virus (WNV) clinical disease in Florida horses as established from confirmed and negative horses tested within the state from 2001 to 2003. An Arboviral Case Information Form (ACF) was submitted by a referring veterinarian at the time of testing to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on every horse suspected of a viral encephalitis in Florida. A follow-up survey that focused on arbovirus prevention and farm ecology was created and mailed to the owner of each tested horse. Data from the follow-up survey indicated peak WNV prevalence in the late summer months in Florida. Quarter horses were the most commonly affected breed. The WNV vaccine was highly protective and natural water on the property also had a protective association. Factors that increased the risk of WNV to horses were the use of fans and a stable construction of solid wood or cement. Some risk indicators were dead birds on the property and other ill animals on the property. Data from this retrospective study have helped identify factors associated with WNV transmission in equines in Florida. Horses that have not been vaccinated and show clinical signs of arboviral infection from June to November should be tested for WNV. Horses that have been vaccinated and show clinical signs should be tested when the vaccination was administered within 1 month or greater than 6 months prior to the onset of clinical symptoms associated with WN infection.