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Two horses test positive for West Nile

October 08, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Two more horses have tested positive for West Nile virus, the Washington County Health Department said Tuesday.

A spokesman also said the department is awaiting test results from three people suspected of having the virus, which can be fatal to humans.

A department news release said one of the latest reported cases of West Nile virus involves a horse that began showing symptoms on Sept. 22. The release said another horse had to be euthanized on Sept. 10 because of the virus. The latest cases bring the total number in Washington County to three, according to the release.

There have been at least 114 reported cases of horse infections in the state this year.

Health Department spokesman Rod MacRae said the number of cases of West Nile for this year likely will start to diminish due to the drop in temperature, which reduces the population of mosquitoes, which carry the virus.

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"Once we get a hard, 'killing' frost, it more or less puts an end to the season and diminishes all sorts of insect activity," MacRae said.

MacRae said residents should vaccinate their animals to prevent them from being infected with West Nile virus.

He also said three, nonlife-threatening "suspect cases" were reported in the county this year in humans, but there were no definitive results to confirm them. MacRae said officials are awaiting final test results and confirmation.

"My understanding is they were not severe cases," he said.

MacRae also said he believes more people will report having the virus as they become more educated about the common symptoms. He said, however, that the likelihood of an outbreak is very low.

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