3rd case of equine West Nile found in Jackson County | Health
MURPHYSBORO, IL (KFVS) - A third horse in Jackson County has tested positive for West Nile virus.
The Jackson County Health Department says having three horses positive in the same county in the same year is very rare in Illinois.
According to public health officials, the presence of the virus in horses can be an indicator of increased risk to humans of West Nile virus.
Since mid-June Jackson County Health Department has detected West Nile virus in ten batches of mosquitoes, one bird, and now has lab results for three horses positive for the virus.
No human cases of WNV have been reported in Jackson County this year, although 138 human cases have been reported in Illinois, with five deaths. In total, six horses have tested positive for WNV in Illinois.
Forty-nine Illinois counties have reported West Nile virus activity so far this year, compared to 19 counties for all of 2011.
"All of these surveillance results drive home the importance of people protecting themselves from mosquitoes," said Bart Hagston, Environmental Health Director for Jackson County Health Department. "While horses and birds are not known to infect humans with West Nile virus, mosquitoes are the common link biting all species and infecting humans with the virus. Therefore, everyone should take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites. In addition, horse owners should vaccinate their animals, as a horse vaccine is available."
The house (Culex) mosquito, which typically carries West Nile virus, is not as noticeable as the swarms of floodwater mosquitoes seen after rainy periods.
The health department says even if it does not look like there are many mosquitoes out, house mosquitoes are stealthy biters and their virus infection rate is high this year. Mosquitoes will continue to breed until the first hard frost of the year.
Individuals can reduce their risk of West Nile illness and other mosquito-borne diseases by taking these precautions:
- Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions.
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
- When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
- Eliminate sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including water in bird baths, flowerpots, old tires and any other receptacles.
Only about two persons out of every ten who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness.
Illness from West Nile disease normally occurs three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito and is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches. However, serious illness such as encephalitis and meningitis, with lingering complications and even death, are possible.
Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease. No human vaccine is available to protect against WNV.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Web site at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm or you can call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 (Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m).
Horse owners who have an animal that exhibits symptoms like twitching, weakness, lethargy, or loss of control should consult their veterinarian immediately for testing and treatment.
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