It’s been two weeks since Knight’s death. Though buried, he continues to be resurrected in my mind and heart. So often we feel if we only had more answers, more information. I realize as I write today with new information, I am sad all over again. Blood tests revealed Knights cause of death was the West Nile Virus. West Nile is a serious disease which effects both people and livestock and is propigated by birds then passed through mosquitoes. The mosquito has to drink repeatedly from an infected host in order for it’s bite to become infectious.
It is such a serious disease that the Michigan Department of Agriculture is tracking it through an Infectious Disease unit. Considering Knight did not show any “typical” symptoms of the disease (fever,no eating or drinking, weaknes in limbs) it was believed he died of an injury but, in the interest of doing all we could to be sure, before the Vet put Knight to sleep, we had him draw blood to check for possbile causes. Here is a review of the events in order before his death and the final conclusion.
Wednesday Night: July 30
Knight developed a twisted large intestine which is a fatal condition only correctable by surgery (or act of God) which can only be provided at Michigan State University. Knight was rushed down by trailer but upon arrival, his gut had miraculously untwisted. None the less they kept him for observation.
Friday Morning: August 1
We picked up Knight at MSU around noon. The vet staff said he was in excellent health, in excellent condition and a perfect gentleman.
Friday August 8th
Knight, the picture of health, gave a lesson to his girl Tori and participated in Hug & Groom where he received extra love and was doted on.
Saturday Night August 9th
Knight is not right. He is down but gets back up. The local vets are called but are out of town.
Sunday Early Morning August 10th
Early morning Knight is down. He never gets back up. Local vet arrives in the afternoon and administers fluids and anti inflammitory treatment per protocol.
Monday Afternoon August 11th
Dr. Schott, head of Equine Internal Medicine at MSU indicates that be it “fracture, injury, or worm” if Knight can not become sternal within 48 hours of going down he recommends euthanizing. Dr. Molby and Dr. Bhuyan concur.
Tuesday Afternoon August 12th
Knight is compassionately euthanized.
Thursday August 21
Dr. Bhuyan received results of Knight’s blood work which confirmed the presence of the West Nile Virus.
Monday August 25
The Michigan Department of Agriculture Infectious Disease unit confirmed today that Knight contracted the virus while he was at MSU July 30-Aug.1 for a twisted intestine. This conclusion was reached weighing several facts about the case and their broad base of experience.
Here are the pertinant facts:
1. The absence of the presence of West Nile virus in Northern Michigan birds
2. The known presence of turkeys infected with the virus turkeys in close proximity to the Vet hospital at MSU
3. The onset of symptoms within the 5-15 day incubation window
4. The statistical unlikelihood of both situations occuring without being connected
Knight, and the rest of the herd, had been scheduled for annual shots in late June but due to a vet emergency and then conflicting schedules they were postponed. The incident is considered “freak” —maybe in a friends words, “the perfect storm”. Sadly, we lost a loved one in the midst.