West Nile Infects WI Horse

By: Stacy Eckes
By: Stacy Eckes

A veterinarian tells NewsChannel 7 that horses in Portage and Wood Counties are now being tested for the West Nile virus after a euthanized horse from Portage County tested positive for the disease.

According to Dr. Gary Johnson from the Corriente Veterinary Service in Plover, the horse living in Kellner was sold on July 18 and brought to Pepin County near Minnesota.

Shortly after, the horse got very ill and was euthanized on Aug. 1. Samples from the horse then tested positive for the West Nile virus. Because horses have an incubation period of three to 15 days, experts still are not sure where the horse contracted the virus.

Meantime, vets and animal owners in North Central Wisconsin are taking precautions to protect horses.

First, doctors recommend every horse get a West Nile virus vaccination; it's being distributed by licensed vets on a one-year conditional permit.

"It was a vaccine that was pushed through production very rapidly because of the emerging threat," said Dr. Johnson.

Doctors also recommend paying close attention to your animal's health. In addition, keep your animal sprayed with an insecticide labeled with mosquito protection for horses.

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West Nile virus Facts

  • The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.

  • The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.

  • The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.

How is the West Nile virus Spread?

  • The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.

  • A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.

  • West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.

  • Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.

  • 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.

  • 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.

  • 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.

Symptoms of the Virus

  • The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.

  • Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.

  • Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.

Protecting Yourself

  • Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home.

  • Wear long and light colored clothing.

  • Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.

  • Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin.

  • Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.

Source: www.vdh.state.va.us contributed to this report