Wabasha vet reports case of Wis. horse

Total of 9 cases reported in Minnesota

From staff and news reports

ST. PAUL-- A case of West Nile virus reported from Wabasha County actually occurred in a Wisconsin horse, the Minnesota Department of Health said this morning.

The horse was one of three equine cases confirmed Wednesday by the state agency. "It was sampled and reported in Wabasha County, but the person that brought in is a Wisconsin resident and the horses are kept in Wisconsin," health department spokesman Doug Schultz said late this morning.

The report came from a Wabasha-based veterinarian, who is required to report cases of encephalitis and related diseases in horses.


But, although that case originated across the border, the virus is turning up in other parts of Minnesota. Another nine horses have tested positive for the mosquito-borne disease, according to the state Department of Agriculture, which monitors health in horses and other livestock.

Ten horses also are believed to have West Nile, but tests aren't yet complete, ag department spokesman Michael Schommer said. None of the horses infected or believed to have been infected has been vaccinated, he said.

Health officials are focusing on horses and birds in monitoring the disease, said Rich Peter, county health department director.

A dead crow also was found Monday on Rochester's west side by a citizen and sent to the Minnesota Department of Health for testing, department spokesman Doug Schultz said. But, as of this morning, health officials had no confirmed reports of West Nile-infected birds in Olmsted County, he said.

Statewide, the virus has been found in 22 birds in eight counties, said David Neitzel, epidemiologist for the state Department of Health. Overall, the agency has confirmed cases in horses or birds in 15 Minnesota counties.

Peter said the disease has been progressing west since being found in New York three years ago. Typically transmitted through mosquito bites, it generally is not dangerous to healthy humans. "Most people who are exposed through mosquito bites don't get ill at all," he said.

Since its discovery on the East Coast in 1999, West Nile virus has been found in 34 states and Washington D.C., and health officials expect it will continue spreading west.

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