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TDK conference 2019

West-Nile virus caused encephalomyelitis in horses - details of the outbreak of 2018
Pásti Judit - year 4
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department Animal Breeding, Nutrition and Laboratory Animal Science
Supervisors: dr. Fehér Orsolya Eszter, Dr. Korbacska-Kutasi Orsolya


West-Nile virus is a zoonotic arbovirus, which can cause nervous system disorders in birds, horses and humans. The virus consists of single-stranded RNA molecules. Phylogenetically, it belongs to the Flavivirus genus in the Flaviviridae family. It’s main vectors are mosquitoes from the Culex genus. In the beginning, WNV caused epidemics in tropical-subtropical areas, but today it spread all over the world, even in Europe. Furthermore, Hungary has the second highest incidence rate in horses of the sorrounding countries.

In 2018, the validly positive cases of horse infections were outstandingly high, compared to the previous years. It is especially true for our country, where 91 cases were reported. All of the animals which are mentioned in the study have been tested positive to the IgM antibodies produced to eliminate the WNV, and they have shown clinical signs at the seasonal period too. In our study, we would like to get a clearer view about the symptoms of the disease and the final outcome, compared to the cases of previous years. We contacted the veterinarians and particularly collected the data of the animals, like age, gender, clinical sings, treatment protocol and the mortality rate.

From the last period 84 cases were compared to the previous seasons, where 34 cases were analised. The differences are probably caused by the low number of the cases in the first years. The disease affected mainly the counties west from the Danube, but in 2018 we collected positive samples from the whole country. The main symptom is still the ataxia (85,3%), which occured 9,75 times more on the hindlimbs, than the forelimbs. The main age group is the most active 3-10 years , although today more foals are involved. In foals, the disease happened to be fatal 2,03 times more, than in older horses. Overall, the survival rate is growing from 70% to 74%. This may be caused by the better informed veterinarians, quick diagnosis and good treatment. Amongst the European countries Hungary is on the top of documenting the WNV infections, not only in the veterinarian, but in the human medicine field too.

When all comes to all, we can say that from the previous years the clinical signs mainly remained the same, however, the huge increase of the case number motivates us to get more information of the WNV infections. The point of our study is to assist the veterinarians identifying the disease in the early stages. Furthermore, we would like to get more information of the epidemical aspect, which is not only important to the veterinarians, but to human doctors too.

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