West Nile confirmed in the city | TahoeDailyTribune.com

West Nile confirmed in the city

A bird found in South Lake Tahoe along with five others and a horse have tested positive for West Nile virus, the El Dorado County Environmental Management Department said Friday.

The horse, located in the Placerville area, is being treated for the illness. Confirmatory testing was conducted by the California Animal and Food Safety Laboratory, at University of California, Davis. The birds were found in South Lake Tahoe, Cool, Somerset, Placerville, Shingle Springs and Camino.

Horses are highly susceptible to West Nile virus – approximately half of the horses that get the virus die or are euthanized. A vaccine is available for horses.

Clinical signs of the infection in horses include stumbling, staggering, wobbly gait, loss of coordination, weakness and paralysis. Humans and animals cannot get West Nile virus from an infected horse; it is only spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.

To date in El Dorado County, there have been a total of 17 birds and one horse that have tested positive for West Nile virus. There have been no human cases. In California, there have been eight West Nile virus-related fatalities and over 300 people diagnosed with the disease this year.

“It is critical that people understand that there is an increased risk for disease at this time and they need to take precautions now to avoid mosquito bites,” said Virginia Huber, spokesperson for El Dorado County’s West Nile Virus Task Force.

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Most people who are bitten by a mosquito with West Nile virus won’t will not get sick, however, up to 20 percent of the population infected with the virus will get West Nile fever. West Nile fever causes people to experience mild to severe flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body ache and possible paralysis. Less than 1 percent of infected individuals will require hospitalization. The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to illness and death.