First West Nile Virus Horse Case Reported

A 12-year-old gelding from Albemarle County is the state's first positive case of West Nile Virus in a horse. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the horse has recovered.

The first case comes later this year than in past years; in 2004, the first case was reported in May. But head of the department's Office of Laboratory Services Doctor Joe Garnein says despite the late start, horse owners still should vaccinate their animals for West Nile Virus.

Virginia reported 16 equine cases of West Nile Virus in 2004, down significantly from 234 in 2003.

The virus usually lives in birds, with mosquitoes transmitting it from bird to bird. Occasionally, a mosquito that has bitten an infected bird will bite a horse or a human. There are no drugs to kill West Nile Virus in horses or humans.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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