Horse found with West Nile virus in Tuolumne County

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TUOLUMNE COUNTY — A horse has tested positive for West Nile virus in Tuolumne County, according to a statement released by county animal control officials Monday.

Officials said people and animals can become infected from the bite of mosquitoes that are carrying the virus. Although horses are easy targets for infection, they are considered “dead-end hosts,” meaning that they don’t transmit the virus to other horses, according to officials.

For horses that do become ill, the virus infects the central nervous system and may cause symptoms of encephalitis, including loss of appetite, depression and fever, according to officials.

Officials said infected horses may also show neurological distress such as impaired vision, limb weakness, stumbling, staggering, wobbly gait or incoordination. West Nile virus infection does not always lead to signs of illness in people or animals, officials said.

Animal control officials recommend annual vaccination of horses to protect them from West Nile virus. Detailed vaccination guidelines are available from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP).

Officials also recommend reducing the risk of infection through the use of insect repellants, fans and screens in shelters. Animal control officials also recommend removing stagnant water sources, regular clean-up of manure and weed control.

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