By J.D. Miles

McKINNEY (CBS 11 NEWS) – The West Nile virus is a big concern for people. But, it’s top of mind for North Texas ranchers as well. They’re worried about the risk of losing livestock to West Nile.

Hanna Hart spends every day with her thoroughbred horse, Teddy.

The Murphy teenager knows that West Nile is a serious threat, not just to her but also her horse.

“It is kind of but, like I said, they have their vaccinations, so I’m not too worried about it,” said Hart

Teddy and the 77 other horses at Hoof Beats Ranch in McKinney are immunized from West Nile which can also debilitate or kill large animals.

“They can get loss of appetite. They can have a lot of limb weakness. It can go from anything from a fever to something really serious where they die,” said Cheryl Joseph, owner of Hoof Beats Ranch.

Guarding against the disease at Hoof Beats involves separating new horses from others when they arrive, keeping herds away from standing water and vaccinating the smallest that are in the boarding stables.

Even a three month old Philly has West Nile protection because her mother was immunized right before delivery Hoof Beats’ owner says she’s surprised by how many horses brought here have not received the potentially life-saving shots.

“Especially in Texas where there are so many people that keep their horses at their own home. We get a lot of horses that don’t have any vaccinations when they come in,” Joseph said.

Horses and cattle are at the highest threat of acquiring West Nile. Small animals such as dogs and cats can be infected, but rarely suffer or show any symptoms.

A vaccination exists for horses, because animals have different immune systems than humans.

But researchers are working on one for us too. So one day, Hanna Hart and her horse will have protection against West Nile.

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