Rock Island County horse tests positive for West Nile Virus

The public health department has reported a horse that tested positive for West Nile Virus. Residents are advised to continue to repel mosquitoes.

A horse in Rock Island County has tested positive for West Nile Virus.

According to the Rock Island County Health Department, a horse infected with West Nile Virus has been reported by the state health department. As of Wednesday, October 2, 2013, Rock Island County has had no human cases of West Nile Virus. There also have not been any positive tests on dead bird or mosquito samples.

A spokesperson from the county’s health department said horses can become infected when they are bitten by mosquitoes that carry the virus. Mosquitoes contract West Nile by ingesting blood from an infected bird.

According to the health department, a horse that tests positive for West Nile Virus is taken as an indicator of an increased risk of the disease in humans.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck advised that residents should remain cautious of mosquito bites even as the temperatures get cooler.

“Even with the cooler temperatures, until the first hard freeze, you still need to protect yourself against mosquito bites and possible West Nile Virus infection,” Dr. Hasbrouck said.

He said to avoid being outside when mosquitoes are most active, which especially includes from dusk to dawn. Repel mosquitoes by wearing clothing with long sleeves, long pants, shoes and socks. Also wear insect repellant. He also advised that residents should report dead birds, areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards, or other areas that could provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Click here for more tips on repelling mosquitoes.