Archive for Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Leavenworth County horse diagnosed with West Nile

September 4, 2002

Last week, Leavenworth County was added to the list of counties in which the presence of West Nile Virus has been confirmed.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, a horse in Leavenworth County was diagnosed with the mosquito-borne disease.

Sharon Watson, KDHE spokesperson, said horses become very ill with West Nile Virus.

"Forty percent of the horses that get it die from it," Watson said.

West Nile Virus is transmitted when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then bites another animal.

According to KDHE information, humans cannot contract the disease from horses or from the birds carrying the virus. But they can get West Nile Virus by being bitten by a mosquito that has bitten an infected bird.

And, in humans, the disease isn't as serious as in horses, Watson said.

"The statistics are much better for humans," Watson said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people who become infected with West Nile virus will have either no symptoms or only mild symptoms. It's estimated that about 20 percent of people who become infected will develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache and body aches, skin rashes on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands.

Symptoms of severe infection are like those of encephalitis, and include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.

Statistics show that about one in 150 persons infected with West Nile Virus will develop the more severe form of it.

The best prevention is to avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellant and wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

It's also important to rid your lawn of water-collecting spots, such as saucers under plants where mosquitoes might lay eggs.

"Generally anywhere there's a lot of water, that's a breeding ground for them," Watson said.

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