Local News

West Nile Virus in Okanogan County

Sep 07, 2016

In the past week, Okanogan County Public Health has received reports of three horses diagnosed with West Nile Virus in Okanogan County.  All three horses were reported to have acquired the infection in-state.  The first report was of a non-vaccinated 6-year-old Quarter Horse gelding from Okanogan County. The prognosis was reported as very good.  The second report concerned two horses from Okanogan County; a non-vaccinated 30-year-old Paint mare and a non-vaccinated 14-year-old Quarter Horse mare.  Both horses were euthanized.

West Nile is a virus carried by mosquitoes that feed on an infected bird. The mosquito can then infect people, horses and many types of birds. Scientists do not believe the virus is spread from person to person or from animal to person. Most people who are infected with West Nile virus will not get sick. About 1 in 5 people infected will have mild symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches. Even fewer, about 1 in 150 people infected, will have more severe symptoms. Severe symptoms may include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and coma. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.

Although no human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Okanogan County the presence of West Nile Virus in local horses is a sign that West Nile Virus may be present in Okanogan County, which means our residents or visitors can be infected. OCPH recommends that we all take steps to prevent mosquito bites and reduce mosquito breeding, including the following:

- Stay indoors at dawn and dusk, which is when mosquitoes are the most active.

- Use mosquito repellent.  Read and follow the label instructions carefully.

- Wear long sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat when going into mosquito-infested areas.

- Make sure windows are closed tight and screens are in good shape.

- Empty anything that holds standing water–old tires, buckets, plastic covers, and toys, at least twice a

- Change water in your birdbaths, fountains, wading pools and animal troughs at least twice a week.

- Make sure roof gutters are properly drained, clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall and fix leaky
  outdoor faucets and sprinklers.

Horses are at risk for the virus, with many horses dying after being infected or ending up being euthanized. The Washington State Dept. of Agriculture recommends that horse owners talk to their veterinarians about the West Nile Virus vaccine. Horse owners are encouraged to keep their horses up to date on all of their vaccinations. 

For more information on West Nile Virus, visit the Dept. of Health at http://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/WestNileVirus

Horse owners may find more information about protecting their horses at the Dept. of Agriculture at http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/AnimalHealth/Diseases/WestNileVirus/



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