WATERTOWN -- Wes Schroeder rubs his hand along a yearling's neck, calming the horse momentarily before sliding a needle into one of its thick muscles. He pauses, waiting for any startled movement, then deftly injects a vaccine.
A minute later, his cell phone rings. It's another fearful horse owner inquiring about the "mosquito shot" -- the vaccine that protects against the West Nile virus. Schroeder politely explains his schedule is jammed for the next couple of weeks, but he'll try to squeeze another appointment in.
Soon after he hangs up, it rings again.
Such is the life of the equine veterinarian as horse owners prepare for another summer of West Nile in Minnesota. After the virus made its first appearance in the state last year, nearly 1,000 horses tested positive for it. About 300 died.
Last April, Schroeder gave hardly any vaccinations. "No one knew whether it was ever going to get to Minnesota last year, but it did -- big time," he said.
The West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes to animals and humans, and causes encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.
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