CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A horse in Goshen County has tested positive for West Nile virus, the second case of the mosquito-borne illness confirmed in Wyoming this year, health officials said Friday.
Tuesday, officials announced that a blue jay in Cheyenne had died from the illness.
The horse sample was collected May 23 and positive test results were returned from the State Veterinary Laboratory in Laramie on Thursday and Friday. It was the first confirmed case of 31 horses tested in Wyoming this year.
"While this is the first case of equine West Nile virus, I do not expect it to be the last in the state by a long shot," State Veterinarian Jim Logan said.
He encouraged residents to have their horses vaccinated since nearly a third of equine infections result in death.
In August 2002, the disease was discovered for the first time in Wyoming in horses near Torrington, the seat of Goshen County. Statewide, 280 horses were tested with 96 West Nile cases confirmed.
Goshen County had the most equine cases with 41, followed by Laramie County with 11.
Also last year, two people in the state took ill, both in Goshen County, and survived. Twenty birds tested positive for the disease, which was found in 15 of Wyoming's 23 counties.
The entire state is likely to have West Nile activity this year, said Terry Creekmore, West Nile virus surveillance coordinator for the Wyoming Department of Health.
He added that Goshen County is historically most active in mosquito-borne equine illnesses due to its warmer weather and relative abundance of water.
Creekmore reminded people to take extra precautions by eliminating mosquito breeding sites, such as standing water, and applying insect repellant.
West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes after they feed on infected birds and then bite people, other birds or animals.
Last year, 4,161 people nationwide became ill with West Nile infection and 284 died. In the continental United States, it was reported in all states except Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
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