OREGON COUNTY -- A horse in Oregon County has tested positive for the West Nile virus.
According to Oregon County Health Department Director Shiela Russell, the horse was ill and was tested by a local veterinarian although she would not name the owner or the veterinarian.
Suzanne Langley of Langley Animal Clinic in Thayer said since the disease first appeared in the United States last summer her office has seen an increase in the number of horses being vaccinated.
She said vaccinations cost $15 at their clinic and horse owners may vaccinate horses themselves. She said in three to four weeks after the vaccination a booster will be needed.
Langley said currently horses are the only animals that have a vaccine against the sometimes deadly virus. Langley said if the disease is caught early enough in horses in most cases it can be treated.
Russell said her office is working actively to lower the risk of the virus to the citizens of the county. She said her office is collecting and testing dead blue jays, crows and hawks. Russell said mosquitoes are infected from biting infected birds, a natural host of the virus. The insects can then transmit the disease to humans, birds or other animals. She said in areas where the insects carry the virus, fewer than one percent of mosquitoes are infected. The disease cannot be transmitted from bird to person or from person to person through casual contact.
She said the disease is becoming more common in the United States and has been reported in 28 states.
Russell said prevention is the key to humans not getting the disease. She said those who want more information on prevention can call her office at 417-778-7450.