Suwannee Democrat

Branford News

November 2, 2012

Horse that had West Nile Virus dies

Live Oak — One of the two horses that the Democrat reported on Wednesday that had contracted the West Nile Virus has died, according to its owner Karin Thrower.

Karin Thrower, 50, of 15897 141st Rd., McAlpin, is originally a native of Tampa. She moved to Suwannee County in 1997 after a car accident had left her disabled. For as long as she can remember, she’s been infatuated with horses.

“Ever since I was three-years-old, I’ve loved horses,” said Thrower. “I used to teach all the younger kids, well, when I got a little older, how to ride.”

Thrower had already gone through a lot in the last few months. She along with many had to deal with the devastation that Tropical Storm Debby brought. Much of her land was under water for quite some time and assistance wouldn’t come soon enough.

Thrower described the several acres she owns and what it was like after all the rain and flooding.

“There were all these little sink holes everywhere, about 100 of them,” said Thrower.

She was stranded for almost two weeks as well as some of her horses as they had become isolated due to the flooding. As if the flooding damage wasn’t enough, her horses getting sick had put quite a burden on her.

She didn’t think much about the West Nile Virus until she saw one of her mares, Stella, a black quarter horse, and knew by the manner in which it moved that something was wrong.

“We saw her staggering down the hill,” said Thrower. “As soon as I laid my hands on her she just fell back and collapsed.”

Immediately, Thrower contacted her veterinarian, Dr. William Blair in Valdosta to ask him for advice. Since he was out of state, he gave her his opinion over the phone.

“After I described what I saw, what she (Stella) was doing, he said it was either Encephalitis or West Nile Virus,” said Thrower. 
Blair told Thrower that after contracting the virus, the symptoms can resemble influenza.

Blair asked her if she had any DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxide). With his experience, DMSO injected into the horse can be effective against several bacterial and fungal species.

Thrower used this on Stella on a Friday, but only a day later, it was clear she would have to put her horse down.

Thrower’s other horse, Lace, almost a yearling, a week later started staggering just as Stella had, so she called the vet again.

“He said to do the same as I had done for Stella,” said Thrower. “I gave her a liter of fluid with 30cc of DMSO. I got her checked out first thing.”

Blair also asked Thrower if she were able to get a blood sample from the horse.

“I do all the care for my horses,” Thrower said. “It takes about a week to 10 days to get blood results.”
Lace appears to be doing a lot better as she is very mobile and doesn’t seem to be affected anymore with the virus.

“Game and wildlife came out here and showed me how to clean out the well with bleach and how to use mosquito repellent,” said Thrower.

She has since purchased a lot of repellent and plans on using it.

“Right now, it’s too cold for the mosquitos at night, so guess what? They’re going to come out during the day when it warms up,” said Thrower. “There are kids that live around here and with all that water, we’ve got to do something.”

The Suwannee County Health Department encourages people to “drain and cover”. Drain all standing water as this serves as a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos and also cover up exposed skin as well as windows that might allow them to enter the home.

For more information, visit Department of Health’s website at http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/medicine/arboviral/index.html or call the Suwannee County Health Department.

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