This year's wet spring and early summer are likely to produce one bumper crop that just about everybody would rather avoid - mosquitoes.
That means that Iowans need to pay special attention to keeping themselves and animals they value safe from mosquito-born ailments. These pesky insects are mostly just a nuisance, but since they can carry the West Nile virus both humans and some animals can face significant health risks in areas were mosquitoes thrive.
That's why the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is calling on horse owners to take protective measures.
"As we enter mosquito season it is important for horse owners to vaccinate their animals so that they are protected from West Nile virus," Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said in a statement issued in June by his department. "I encourage owners to talk to their veterinarian about vaccination and make sure all their animals' vaccinations are up-to-date."
According to the IDALS, the first year of vaccination requires two vaccinations to protect horses adequately followed by annual boosters in subsequent years.
West Nile isn't an enormous problem in Iowa, but it may be of increasing concern here and elsewhere in the United States in the years ahead. According to the IDALS there were 36 confirmed West Nile virus cases in horses in 2012. That was up from only one the year before. Proactive measures such as vaccinations and mosquito control to keep it from becoming a more serious issue make good sense.
The Messenger urges readers to pay attention to Northey's admonition. Sensible measures now can keep animals safe and prevent tragedy and economic loss in the future.