With mosquito season approaching, it’s time for ranchers and other horse owners to think about West Nile virus prevention.
Vaccination is an effective and inexpensive way to prevent WNV, which results in death for a third of the horses it affects, and is recommended by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. The best time to vaccinate is before mosquitoes are active, as the vaccine takes a few weeks to offer full protection. Consult with a veterinarian to develop a vaccination plan specific to the animals and situation.
In addition to vaccination, equine owners should take measures to control mosquito populations. A few best management practices to manage numbers and limit exposure include eliminating potential breeding sites (old receptacles, tires and containers) and areas of standing water; use of insect repellants; thoroughly cleaning livestock watering troughs weekly; keeping horses indoors during peak mosquito activity periods of dusk to dawn and avoiding turning on lights inside stables during the evening and overnight.
WNV is a reportable disease in Montana. Any confirmed or suspected case should be immediately reported to the Montana state veterinarian’s office at 406-444-2043.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared Big Horn, Carbon, Stillwater and Yellowstone counties as primary disaster areas and Golden Valley, Musselshell, Park, Powder River, Rosebud, Sweet Grass and Treasure counties as contiguous disaster areas due to disaster designations authorized in Montana and South Dakota. As part of the South Dakota designation, Carter and Fallon counties were declared contiguous disaster areas.
Both the Montana and South Dakota designations are a result of losses caused by drought, excessive heat, high winds, wildfires and insects beginning May 1 and continuing.
All qualified farm operators in the designated areas are eligible for low interest emergency loans from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. Agricultural producers in eligible counties have until Jan. 8 to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. The FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.
The Emergency Loan rate is currently at 2.375 percent, with a maximum emergency loan amount of $500,000. The funds may be used to restore or replace essential property, pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, pay essential family living expenses or refinance certain debts, excluding real estate.
To apply, contact the local FSA office to set up an appointment with the Farm Loan Program staff in your area. For more information, visit the state FSA Website at: www.fsa.usda.gov/mt.