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Woman's Horse Dies From West Nile

Blood Tests Show Horse Contracted Virus, Died In 24 Hours

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sixteen of 17 reported human cases of the West Nile virus in Jacksonville this year have been concentrated on the Westside, and area residents say they have good reason to shield there animals from mosquitoes.

Alishia Kinch said blood tests confirmed that her miniature horse, Snickers, contracted the West Nile virus and died in less than 24 hours. She said her other horse, 3-year old Reese, has been withdrawn and doesn't want to play ever since his sidekick died.

"That morning she was fine. She was fine. She was fed this morning, and there were no problems with her," Kinch said of Snickers. "In the afternoon, I went out there to give them a little feed and she didn't come out."

Veterinarian Thomas Nauman arrived about an hour later to find the horse in distress.

"The horse was down. It couldn't get up. It was seizuring, more or less, on the ground," Nauman said.

He said his first thought was that Snickers had the Eastern equine encephalitis, another potentially fatal virus carried by mosquitoes.

"Eastern is more common, has been lately, and more serious," Nauman said. "I was rather surprised when we got the West Nile titer back."

Horses do occasionally contract West Nile. In fact, there is an equine vaccine that Nauman said should be administered every six months.

Kinch said she'll follow that advice from now on.

"The issue really is trying to let everybody know that they need to go out and get these horses vaccinated because it's really bad on the Westside right now," she said.

Kinch said it's likely that she'll replace Snickers someday, but it will take some time.