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Sept. 12, 2006

Horse in Hannibal Recovers from West Nile Virus

A horse on Summerville Road in the town of Hannibal is recovering from West Nile virus, the Oswego County Health Department reported today.

The horse began showing symptoms Aug. 22 and was treated by a local veterinarian. A blood test confirmed this week that the horse had contracted West Nile virus.

Kathleen Smith, Public Health Director for the Oswego County Health Department, said the horse appears to be making a full recovery.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause encephalitis and other serious health problems. It affects mammals and birds, especially crows.

Although mosquito activity will continue to decrease with the cooler temperatures, Smith said, it's important that people continue to take personal protective measures while they're outdoors.

"The wet weather that we experienced earlier this summer caused the mosquito population to flourish in many areas," she said. "We need to continue to protect ourselves from mosquitoes until the cold weather sets in and we've had several frosts."

You can help to reduce your risk of mosquito bites if you:

  • Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when you are outdoors for long periods of time.
  • Use a mosquito repellent when it is necessary to be outdoors at times when mosquitoes are most active. Be sure to follow the directions on the label. Do not let children apply mosquito repellent themselves.
  • Many mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile virus lay their eggs in stagnant water around the home. To reduce the mosquito population around your home, eliminate sources of standing water such discarded tires and change the water in birdbaths weekly.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. In many individuals, these symptoms are so mild they go unnoticed or undetected. The symptoms of severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and coma.

For more information, call the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3564, or visit www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/westnile/

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