08/06/2002 11:00PM

Fairmount hit with West Nile

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COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - Two weeks after a horse infected with the West Nile virus was euthanized at Fairmount Park, two other horses on the grounds and another at an offtrack training facility in the area have been found to be infected with the virus.

The prognosis for the infected horses is bleak. According to veterinarian Donald McCroskey, there are no antibiotics effective against the West Nile virus. "Right now, all we can do is treat the symptoms, such as high fever, with anti-inflammatories and try to help boost the horse's immune system," he said. "Possible recovery primarily rests on the resiliency of the individual."

An experimental vaccine for the virus, produced by Fort Dodge Animal Health, a company in Iowa, has been given conditional license by the Food and Drug Administration while testing on the product continues. The vaccine requires two inoculations, three to four weeks apart. Dr. Jerre Rorick, the Illinois state veterinarian, reported that nearly all horses on the grounds have received the initial shot. A team from Horseshoe Lake Animal Hospital will be in the barn area Saturday providing vaccinations from 8 a.m. to noon.

Doak's Creek, trained by Ronnie Ward, was the first horse at Fairmount to come down with West Nile. After symptoms such as loss of coordination, fatigue, and high fever, Doak's Creek was euthanized on July 23, just days after the fever was diagnosed.