With the recent rain and high temperatures, and more scheduled to come, horse owners are encouraged by the state Agriculture, Food, and Forestry Department to take precautions and vaccinate their animals against West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.
Oklahoma has not had any reports of mosquito-borne diseases in horses this year.
“From here to August we’ll have ideal temperatures for mosquito development,” said Justin Talley, associate professor and livestock entomologist at Oklahoma State University. “The main thing is water. If you eliminate water, you’re going to eliminate mosquito breeding.”
There are many species of mosquitoes, and all need water to breed and complete their life cycles. Oklahomans can reduce the risk of disease by removing standing or stagnant water in birdbaths, water tanks and wheelbarrows. Eggs laid in small pools of water can hatch adult mosquitoes in only 10 days during the warmest summer months, according to the department.
Talley said horse owners should also keep up with booster shots and treat their horses with a repellant low in concentrations of permethrin, an insecticide. Performance horses should be treated with a repellant twice a week and it should be applied on days when the horses will not be ridden, Talley said.