Health officials are warning people to be extra careful outside after a horse tested positive for West Nile Virus in Washoe County.
This is the county's first case of the West Nile Virus, this year, coming just a week after a woman was diagnosed with the virus, in Churchill County.
The wild horse was showing signs of the virus, in the Mira Loma, Damonte Ranch wetlands near Sage Hill Gun Club.
"It was having difficulty standing," Bob Sack said. "I'm sure it was having some lung and breathing issues and stuff like that, also."
Sack is the Division Director of Environmental Health at the Washoe County Health District.
He says since the six-year-old horse grew up in the wild, it had not been vaccinated, and had to be euthanized.
Now, the focus turns to public safety.
"This is the first test we've had positive," Sack said. "So, as a result of that, we do aggressively treat for adult mosquitoes that would be biting because if they're biting horses, they could be biting people, too."
That means officials are stepping up preventive measures for at least the next week in the area where the horse was roaming.
"We've increased our surveillance in that area," Sack said. "We've increased our fogging early in the morning, which kills adult mosquitoes."
The Washoe County Health District also maintains and tests several flocks of birds for West Nile Virus, but no sign of the virus has been detected.
But the positive case in the horse confirms the disease is in our area.
"It's the mosquitoes that transmit the disease, not the horses, themselves," Sack said. "So for us, the horse getting this is an indicator of disease activity that could transmit to humans."
To protect yourself from West Nile Virus, clear areas around your home of free-standing water, make sure mosquitoes can't get into your home, and when you're outside, wear long sleeves and pants, and use deet repellent.
"Anytime there's mosquito activity, we obviously encourage people to try to minimize their chances of getting bit," Sack said.
The Health District encourages anyone that owns horses to get them vaccinated.
West Nile activity has been mild, in Nevada, compared to other states. Texas has had at least 43 deaths and more than 510 cases this year.
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:16 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:16:04 GMT
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