Many Texans rely upon the weather for a variety of reasons. From crops to cattle, Texans are often at the mercy of Mother Nature. Although droughts can have a dire impact on animal health, floods can contribute to widespread issues among animal owners. Excessive rainfall can contribute to mosquito-borne diseases, toxic plants, dermatologic conditions, and many other diseases. The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) offers testing and diagnostic consultations to assist animal owners and practitioners with many issues contributed to flooding.
This post is the second in a series that cover the various animal health concerns contributed to flooding.
Here are some of the potential insect-borne disease concerns TVMDL encourages livestock owners and practitioners to be aware of during periods of excessive rain.
Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis & West Nile Virus
Biting insect populations increase significantly following excessive rainfall and thrive in flooded and previously flooded areas. Mosquitoes and biting flies spread a number of viral diseases, such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE) and West Nile virus (WNV). Although predominantly associated with disease in horses, these viruses can infect and cause disease in birds, dogs, cats, and humans. The natural disease cycle is a bird/mosquito transmission cycle. When the virus becomes more prevalent in nature, it may “spill over” into horses, other animals and humans.
Typically, these diseases manifest through neurologic symptoms caused by inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Vaccines for EEE, WEE and WNV are available to prevent disease in horses.
TVMDL offers serologic assays to determine whether an animal is infected with EEE, WEE, or WNV. TVMDL also offers a molecular assay (rtPCR) for the detection of WNV. In addition, necropsy and histopathology can assist in the diagnosis of neurologic disease.
Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic filarial worm Dirofilaria immitis. This parasite is transmitted by mosquitoes. Dogs are primarily infected but this disease is also seen to a lesser extent in cats. As a result of extensive rainfall, there is an uptick in mosquito populations, which increases the risk of heartworm infection for dogs and cats.
Consult a veterinarian concerning heartworm prevention, testing and treatment. TVMDL offers serologic testing for heartworm disease diagnosis in canine and feline specimens.
For more information on TVMDL’s test offerings, visit tvmdl.tamu.edu or call and schedule a consultation with one of TVMDL’s veterinary diagnosticians in College Station at 1.888.646.5623 or in Amarillo at 1.888.646.5624.
Download this flood series of posts in a comprehensive document here.
Click here to view potential skin and foot concerns for livestock owners during floods.