West Nile Virus has already been identified in mosquiotoes collected near Yakima, Washington – one month earlier than anticipated. On Saturday, June 15, The Yakima Herald reported that mosquitoes in two samples collected near Grandview, Wash., tested positive for West Nile virus.
According to the Department of Health, the incidence of West Nile is occurring almost one month earlier than in previous years. Only one month ago, the Washington State Department of Agriculture issued a news release warning owners to vaccinate their horses against West Nile.
Testing dead birds and mosquito samples for West Nile began last week and these results are the first indication that the virus is active in 2013.
“Avoiding mosquito bites is the key to preventing infection and possible illness,” stated Maryanne Guichard, assistant secretary of Environmental Public Health.
“Many people will be outdoors now with the warmer weather, so it’s important to take steps to prevent West Nile virus,” she added.
West Nile is dangerous both to humans and to other animals, including horses. In 2012, a man in his 30s became the first human case of West Nile in the county. The man was hospitalized in Aug., but he did recover from the virus.
Also in Aug. 2012, a horse near Grandview, Wash. was euthanized after he received a bite from a mosquito infected with West Nile virus. The two-year-old gelding had not been vaccinated against West Nile.
People who are bitten by a West Nile-infected mosquito can have a range of reactions, from being asymptomatic to having a fatal reaction. Some neurological effects associated with the virus may be permanent.
For horses, West Nile virus is fatal in approximately one-third of all who show symptoms, which include loss of appetite, a loss of coordination, fever, confusion, stiffness, and muscle weakness, particularly in the hindquarters. Horses who are infected with West Nile do not transmit the virus to other animals.
According to the CDC, since 1999, there have been more than 30,000 reports of people becoming sick with West Nile virus in the United States. The King County Department of Health provides resources for people who are concerned about West Nile virus.
Our animals rely upon us to keep them safe and healthy. The Washington State Department of Agriculture recommends the following preventative measures to reduce mosquito populations:
- Removing standing water from yards and barns that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Removing old tires and garbage that may be rain soaked.
- Changing water at least weekly in troughs or bird baths.
- Keeping horses in stalls or screened areas during the early morning and evening hours when mosquitoes are the most active and feeding.
- Placing fans inside barns and stalls to maintain air movement.
Veterinarians who learn of potential West Nile virus cases in pets or in wild animals should contact the State Veterinarian’s Office at (360) 902 1881.
For more information on West Nile virus infections in animals, visit the state Department of Health or the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more information. The state Department of Health has an interactive map showing 2013 West Nile virus activity.
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