Lyon County resident Bob Motamenpour saved his miniature horse from dying of West Nile virus, but she went through a lot of pain.
Cases of human and animal infection are still showing up across the state, so don't let your guard down, a state health official said Monday.
Motamenpour, a Carson City sheriff's detective, said he saved his horse by catching the disease in the early stages. They kept the yearling, Tyke, hydrated and nourished. She had several visits from the family vet.
"It's a bad death," he said. "When they die, it's a horrible death."
West Nile virus has hit Clark and Churchill counties hard. As of Friday, seven Churchill County residents have been diagnosed with West Nile virus, according to the state Health Division. Clark has eight cases, Washoe has two and Lyon has one. That brings the total confirmed human case count in Nevada to 18.
So far Carson City has one probable human case of the virus.
Health Division spokeswoman Martha Framsted said the case was reported Sept. 7 in a person over age 50. This person has suffered meningitis and/or encephalitis. Framsted said the person's health status is unknown.
"Mosquito season is not over," she said. "People should make sure they follow preventative procedures and to make sure people are aware that West Nile virus will be here next year."
Motamenpour said his veterinarian has euthanized about 20 horses in Douglas County so far. Tyke got sick about three weeks ago, the same day he gave her the vaccine.
"By 5 p.m. (that day), she was showing symptoms. They were a lack of coordination, high fever, and her body was hot," he said. "The next day, she started lying down and not getting up and going into convulsions. Her eyes would roll back, and she'd be jerking all over her body. I guess they get a headache, which is why she kept hitting her head with her foot."
The vet confirmed it was West Nile about a week later. Motamenpour owns three other horses on his 13-acre ranch near Stagecoach. None of his other horses were infected. He said Tyke was probably infected before he gave her the vaccination.
"The vaccination is good," Motamenpour said. "It doesn't cost that much. If the doctor does it maybe $80, but they sell the vaccine, and you can give it to the animal yourself."
The vaccine also requires a follow-up and a booster shot every six months.
In 2003, no tests came back positive for West Nile in any horse, mosquito or person in Nevada.
Ed Foster, spokesman for state Department of Agriculture, said the disease was probably in the state last year and it just started showing up now.
"Since we started surveillance, there isn't one place in the state that hasn't had it," he said.
Mosquito season in Northern Nevada typically lasts until the first killing frost in mid-October, Foster said.
"During the winter months West Nile virus disappears with the death of all the female (virus carrier) mosquitoes," Foster said. "Does it mean West Nile virus is gone from Nevada? No."
Foster said the infected mosquitoes transfer it to their eggs. The cold Nevada winter will kill all larvae and impede the hatching of any eggs, but mosquitoes will start hatching again.
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