West Nile Affects Animals

By: Jason Lanning
By: Jason Lanning

There are heightened concerns about the West Nile virus in Illinois.

That's after a horse at a southern Illinois race track contracts West Nile and is put down.

Most horse stables in Illinois are taking a pro-active approach to make sure horses here can't be infected with West Nile.

A new West Nile virus vaccination for horses is being used by doctors like Joseph Lowry. He says he's inoculated more than 700 horses in the Stateline area and expects more horse owners will be interested in getting their horses vaccinated.

West Nile virus vaccinations for horses run between $20 and $25.

The first year, horses need a vaccination shot, and booster then every following year one booster.

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West Nile in Illinois

  • In Illinois, West Nile virus was first identified in September 2001 when laboratory tests confirmed its presence in two dead crows found in the Chicago metropolitan area.

  • Since then, more than 100 birds, mosquitoes and horses in seven counties -- six in the Chicago area and Crawford County in central Illinois -- have tested positive for the virus.

  • No human cases of West Nile encephalitis have been reported in Illinois.

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has had a sophisticated disease surveillance system in place since 2000 to monitor animals and insects that can potentially carry the virus: wild birds; dead crows, blue jays and raptors; and mosquitoes.

  • Over the past two years, the virus, which can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, has quickly spread throughout the northeastern states and to states south and west of New York.

  • In 2001, West Nile virus was also identified in other Midwestern states, including Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin.

States With Birds Testing Positive in 2002:

  • Alabama
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas

Source: http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm (Illinois Department of Health Web site), and http://westnilevirus.nbii.gov/ (National Biological Information Infrastructure Web site) contributed to this report.


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