West Nile spreads across Northwest


Capital Press

A Washington state horse was euthanized this week after it contracted West Nile virus, and four other horses in Idaho and Oregon were diagnosed with the disease.

Veterinarians are urging horse owners to vaccinate their animals.

A 2-year-old gelding in Yakima County, Wash., was put down after it contracted the virus and its condition worsened, Washington state veterinarian Leonard Eldridge said. Confirmation of the illness came from the Washington Animal Disease D …

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Worst Year for West Nile Is Expected

Oregon West Nile virus map attached WNV Map Click Here

1 Equine case was diagnosed yesterday in Klamath County  on top of positive mosquitoes and 1 positive bird in other areas of the State of Oregon. We may see human cases very soon.

Worst Year for West Nile Is Expected, Officials Say

The nation is heading toward the worst outbreak of West Nile disease in the 13 years that the virus has been on this continent, federal health authorities said Wednesday.

But it is still unclear where and how far cases will spread. Dallas declared an emergency last week, and West Nile deaths have been concentrated in Texas and a few nearby states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma, as well as South Dakota.

So far this year, there have been 1,118 cases and 41 deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, director of the agency’s division of vector-borne diseases, said Wednesday in a telephone news conference.

“That’s the highest number of cases ever reported to the C.D.C. by the third week of August,” he added. “And cases are trending upward.”

Because it takes some time for symptoms to develop and cases to be reported, those people were probably infected by mosquitoes two to three weeks ago, he said. The agency expects cases to increase through the end of September. In 2003, there were 264 deaths.

It takes three days to two weeks after a bite for symptoms to come on, but they may then be rapid and overwhelming.

Dr. Petersen described his own 2003 bout with West Nile.

“I was out for a jog, and within one mile I went from feeling normal to where I could barely walk,” he said.

Only about one infection in 150 becomes serious enough for the patient to need hospitalization — usually when the virus gets into the brain and spinal cord. But 10 percent of those hospitalized die, and other patients are left paralyzed, comatose or with serious mental problems. A recent study by doctors in Houston found kidney disease high among survivors.

There is no vaccine, and no drug that specifically targets the virus, so health authorities advise people to avoid getting bitten.

As of noon Wednesday, Texas had recorded 25 West Nile deaths, Dr. David Lakey, the state’s health commissioner, said during the same conference call.

The Dallas area has too many miles of roads to cover with mosquito-killing spray trucks, so the state has spent about $3 million — virtually all from the federal government — flying pesticide spray planes at night, Dr. Lakey said.

It is not clear why this is turning into the worst year nationally since the virus was discovered in New York City in 1999, nor why it is particularly concentrated in the Dallas area, Dr. Petersen said. Hot weather is known to increase transmission, but much of the country has suffered from a heat wave and severe drought has gripped the Midwestern Corn Belt.

Some experts theorize that a wet winter followed by drought creates ideal conditions for the culex mosquitoes that spread the virus. They lay their eggs in dirty, nutrient-filled pools like those left when rivers dry up, and they can survive winters with the virus by hiding in tunnels or sewers. Entomologists from HomeTeam Pest Defense in Dallas have, for example, advised residents not to overwater their lawns, which can create pools of standing water.

The virus now exists everywhere in the contiguous 48 states, and all 48 — except Vermont — have found it in local mosquitoes or birds this year. Birds act as a multiplier for the virus, which is then transmitted by mosquito species that bite both birds and humans.

Generally outbreaks begin in the Southern states and move north with warmer weather. Though much of the country experienced heat waves this year, it is not foreordained that all states will have serious outbreaks.

The spread depends on other factors, including what percentage of birds in an area have never been infected and therefore can become multipliers. (In birds and people, survivors develop lifelong immunity.)

“You can have a lot of cases in one area and not in a place just 100 miles away,” Dr. Petersen said

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Cammi and Tigger win the world

A big congratulations to the Benson family and their trainer Carolyn Horning for helping Cammi Benson and her amazing horse Tigger win the world.   


Sisters rider wins the world

By JimCornelius
News EditorWhen she was 11 years old, Cammi Benson told The Nugget she planned to win the Pinto World Championship at age 14.

Most high aspirations of pre-teen kids are pleasant dreams that fall by the wayside. Not for Benson. Last month, she did, in fact, win the world at the Pinto Horse World Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Benson, the daughter of Julie and Benny Benson of Sisters, won several prestigious honors: the All-Around Junior Youth High Point (13/under – qualified for age as of January 2012); Youth (18/under) Gymkhana High Point; Youth (18/under) Driving High Point; and as a team, Cammi and her horse “Image On The Rocks” won World Show Super Horse High Point (out of more than 2,000 horses).

Pinto is a color registry where a wide variety of breeds compete together in the Pinto World Championships. “When I first started riding and competing in shows, I dreamed of going to the World Show,” Benson told The Nugget. “Last year I went to the World Show, and came in sixth overall. That’s when I noticed what it takes to win the All-Around title. I had to be able to place in more disciplines than just performance.”

It’s a competition that rewards versatility. Points are scored for the top six placings in each event. Points are added up, and the highest total points achieved at the World Show are awarded the High Point designation.

“She was in the top six in 16 events, and was World Champion in eight of them, all pattern classes,” Julie explained.

Cammi’s horse, a 9-year-old paint – best known as “Tigger” – has versatility in spades.

“Horses have gotten really specialized,” Julie said. “Tigger is not a specialty-bred horse. If you saw him out in the pasture, you’d think he was a cow horse. What he is, though, is steady and willing. He has a heart of gold. Whatever Cammi asks him to do, he gives his all.”

Tigger might not be the very best at any particular event when going up against a horse bred for, say, jumping. But he’s really good at a lot of different things, which gave Cammi an edge in building her overall point total.

Getting that edge, however, took a lot of work. After the 2011 show, Benson and trainer Carolyn Horning determined what it would take to win.

“She and her trainer really set out a plan a year ago – and they worked on it every day,” Julie said.

Working the plan meant bringing her performance classes up to a more competitive level, as well as adding new disciplines like driving the cart, jumping, dressage, reining, and gymkhana, which Benson had not done before.

“There are basically two kinds of classes,” explains Cammi. “There are the ones where the movement, conformation, and color of the horses are judged, such as Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, and Halter. Horses are specially bred and trained for these events, and that’s all they do. We don’t even enter those classes, since Tigger has no chance at placing.”

The other kinds of classes are pattern classes, where the rider and horse are judged on how well they execute a given pattern. There are many different kinds of patterns, including showmanship, dressage, reining, equitation, driving the cart, and gymkhana. This is where Cammi and Tigger shine.

For Cammi and Tigger to be able to place in the top six in such a diverse range of events is exceptional. It’s not just the horse that’s exceptional, it’s the partnership, the Bensons note. Add Horning’s expert instruction in these multiple disciplines, and that completed the winning combination. Horning has achieved many world titles in her own career showing horses, and now trains others in her lifelong passion.

Cammi had to get more comfortable with speed events to prevail in gymkhana, which includes timed events such as barrel racing, keyhole race, flag race, stake (a figure-eight pattern) and pole bending.

She now acknowledges that she likes the speed, but the precision of pattern work is still her forte.

Her schedule when Tigger is at home is to ride him twice a day, focusing on two different disciplines. When Tigger is at Horning’s barn, Horning and Benson each ride him once a day.

Competition at this elite level brings a lot of pressure to bear.

“I was competing with 300 of the best kids and horses in the U.S. and Canada. I was so nervous, I had to get all the butterflies in my stomach to fly in formation,” Cammi said.

Performing under pressure is not new for Benson, who is also an elite pianist. She performed a major National Piano Guild test the week before leaving for the World Show.

“I think her music study helps her in memorizing patterns,” says Julie. “At the World Show, some days she had to execute nine different patterns, all from memory.”

To perform at the level to which she aspires, Benson must be disciplined – and have a flexible schedule.

“This year I did an online school – ORVA (Oregon Virtual Academy),” Cammi explained.

She can do her work on her own schedule, mostly at night after the riding and chores are done.

Equestrian sports demand a high degree of responsibility.

“Unlike other sports, you can’t just throw the ball in the closet and go on about your day. You have your horse to take care of, too. When other kids are home watching TV, Cammi is out cleaning the barn and caring for her horses and other animals,” said Benny.

Cammi notes that her success is a team effort. She gives credit to her trainer, Carolyn Horning, and to her vet, Tim Phillips, and farrier and equine chiropractor Abe Stills, and also to Sisters’ “Hands-on-the-Horse Guy” Bill Turner.

“To compete at that level, you have to have the horse as good as he can be,” Julie said. “And all those people had a part in that.”

Julie herself earns credit as the literal driving force behind her daughter’s success. When Cammi started riding in shows, her mom was hauling her horses around in a bumper-pull trailer. She’s since advanced to a big rig and cross-country treks.

“Six years ago she was scared to death,” Cammi said. “And now she’s driving a semi-truck and a 40-foot trailer through drive-up coffee shops.”

Cammi’s grandparents, Marvin and Trine Benson, and Ruthie White, all pitch in to keep the Bensons’ farm running while they’re away at horse shows.

“I couldn’t do this without their support,” Cammi said.

Cammi says she doesn’t know what the next step is for her and Tigger. She may “age up” and continue in the kind of competition she dominated last month. Or, there may be other equestrian activities to explore.

And if you ask where all this is pointing in terms of a future career, Cammi will smile and say, “I have no idea.”

But whatever path she chooses, she’s already shown that she has the discipline, drive and passion to win the world.

For more information on the Pinto World Championship, visit www.pintoworld.com.

July 17, 2012

Land O’Lakes Purina Feed, LLC, has initiated a voluntary recall of specific lots of Purina WellSolve horse feeds due to the potential for elevated vitamin D levels, which could be harmful if fed for extended periods of time. Formula No. … Continue reading

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2012 Referral Program!

With summer right around the corner and horse show season in full swing, Tim W. Phillips, DVM, and staff  would like to say a big “thank you” for your business by offering a $10 credit to your account for every referral you send to us throughout 2012!
Check the online pharmacy for your summer equine supplies.

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Foaling Fundamentals: The Top 10 List

By Patrick M. McCue, DVM, Ph.D., Diplomate American College of Theriogenologists
GestationLength of horses is approximately 340-345 days.  The length of pregnancy is about 7-10 days longer for mares foaling out in the winter than for mares foaling out in the late Spring or Summer.  Mares maintained under lights during the last few months of pregnancy will have a shorter length of gestation. One should factor in season and light exposure when calculating expected foaling dates.  Pregnant mares should be vaccinated one month prior to the due date to increase antibody levels in the colostrum. Type of vaccine administered may depend on geographical location, potential exposure and management practices. If the mare has had a Caslick procedure performed, the sutured vulva should be opened approximately 2 weeks prior to the expected foaling date or earlier if needed.

Milk Calcium levels increase as the time of foaling approaches.  Most mares foal winthin 48 hours of when milk calcium levels reach 200 ppm.  Several commercial test kits are available to help predict when foaling will (or will not) occur.

Waxing of the Teats is a sign that foaling will occur in most mares within 24 to 48 hours. However, not all mares wax up and the duration from the onset of waxing to foaling can be quite variable.


Stage 1 of Laborlasts for 1-4 hours. Signs of early labor in the mare include frequent episodes of lying down, looking at her flanks, pawing at the ground and patchy sweating. The end of Stage 1 occurs when the mare ‘breaks her water’ or ruptures the outer placental membrane (chorioallantois) and releases allantoic fluid.

Stage 2 of Labor or active labor lasts 20 to 30 minutes. The first structure visible at the vulva should be the amnion, a translucent gray membrane.  The hallmark of premature separation of the placenta (‘red bag’) is the appearance of a thick, brick-red, velvety membrane (the chorion) at the vulva during early labor. Red bag should be considered a medical emergency as the oxygen supply to the foal is compromised and veterinary help should be summoned immediately.

Establishment of an Airway and Stimulation of Breathing is the top priority when a foal has just been born. The amnion should be removed from the nasal area if it did not break spontaneously during foaling. Respiration may be stimulated by briskly rubbing the newborn foal with a towel, tickling the inside of the nostrils with straw or flexion and extension of the front limbs to stimulate stretch receptors.

Dip the Navel with a disinfectant soon after foaling to help prevent bacterial infections and help seal the umbilical stump.  Common disinfectants include dilute Nolvasan, Betadine and Iodine.  It is recommended that the navel be dipped 2-3 times per day for the first 2-3 days after birth.

Standing and Nursingby the foal should occur within approximately 1 hour and 2 hours, respectively, after birth. Ingestion of colostrum,However, if blood antibody levels are checked earlier (i.e. at 12 hours), oral supplementation with frozen-thawed colostrum or a colostrum substitute can be administered if needed.  Several commercial diagnostic tests are now available for measuring IgG levels in foals to determine the success of passive antibody transfer. Evaluating antibody levels is a critical component of an optimal health program for newborn foals.

Passage of the Placenta (Stage 3 of labor) should occur within 3 hours after foaling. Failure to pass the placenta could lead to severe medical conditions in the mare, such as peritonitis and laminitis (founder). Early Mare and foal medical intervention can aid in stimulating passage of the placenta and prevention of subsequent complications.

Meconium or first feces should pass within approximately 3 hours after birth. An enema should be administered if a foal strains to defecate without passing meconium.  Commercial phosphate-based enemas (i.e. Fleet) are safe, effective and convenient.


About the Author…
Patrick M. McCue, DVM, Ph.D., Equine Reproduction Specialist Associate Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University