West Nile confirmed in Churchill County horse

FALLON - The Nevada Division of Agriculture and Nevada Department of Health confirmed a case of West Nile virus in Churchill County on Friday.

Laboratory samples from a Fallon horse were tested Thursday night and came back positive for the virus. The horse had not been vaccinated against the disease and began exhibiting symptoms of the disease Wednesday, state veterinarian Dr. David Thain said. The 5-year-old stallion was euthanized later that night.

"We are urging horse owners to get their horses vaccinated. If your horse was vaccinated last year you need a booster," he said.

Mules and donkeys should also be vaccinated, he added. The vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing the equine disease. About 30 percent of horses that become ill with West Nile and show symptoms die.

Ed Foster, environmental scientist for the state department of agriculture, said the U.S. Department of Veterinary Services on Friday recovered the brain and spinal cord of a second Churchill County horse that exhibited signs of West Nile.

That horse belongs to Jerry Hoover, who reported his year-old quarter horse was acting strange on Wednesday and possibly had contracted the mosquito-borne illness.

Foster said bird and mosquito samples from Lyon and Washoe counties tested preliminary positive for West Nile. The Lyon County Sheriff's Office picked up three dead crows for testing July 22. Tests results released Friday indicated two out of the three crows were infected.

Fifteen mosquito pools were collected from Hawthorne on July 22, with seven of those testing positive for West Nile virus. Nine out of 15 mosquito pools collected in White Pine County tested positive.

The virus is spread by infected mosquitos. Mosquitos contract the disease when they feed on birds that are infected. The virus may be transmitted to animals and humans from a mosquito bite.

Two human cases have been reported in Nevada, one in Clark County and one in Reno.

The disease can be potentially serious, especially for people over 50 and those with immune system deficiencies. About one in 50 who contract the disease become seriously ill, the Center for Disease Control reports.

It affects the central nervous system but four out of five infected with West Nile will not show any symptoms, according to the CDC. Up to 20 percent will experience fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes a rash on the torso and swollen lymph glands.

Serious symptoms include high fever, loss of vision, headache, stiff neck, coma, convulsions, stupor, disorientation, tremors, muscle weakness, numbness and paralysis.

People will develop symptoms between three and 14 days after being bit by an infected mosquito. There is no known treatment.

Contact Marlene Garcia at mgarcia@lahontanvalleynews.com


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