News

Infected horses serve as West Nile reminder

Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus. The latest B.C. victims of the disease are two horses near Cache Creek. - File photo
Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus. The latest B.C. victims of the disease are two horses near Cache Creek.
— image credit: File photo

Positive tests for West Nile virus in two horses near Cache Creek serve as a fresh reminder that humans could also be infected by the mosquito-borne disease, health officials say.

"It's not too surprising," said deputy provincial health officer Bonnie Henry. "But it would be the first indication we have this year of any West Nile virus activity."

She noted the two horses haven't yet been confirmed as West Nile cases by the province. They were reported Monday by the Society of B.C. Veterinarians, which cautioned owners of horses against scrimping on their vaccinations.

There have been three bitten-in-B.C. West Nile infections among people over the years, in addition to the more than 40 other cases contracted out of province.

All the local infections happened in 2009 in the Southern Interior, Henry said, with most of the positive tests of mosquitoes and birds occurring in the South Okanagan.

Henry said horses act as "end hosts" like humans – they don't act as a virus reservoir like corvid birds.

"This is another indicator that West Nile virus can be out there," she said. "This would be the highest risk time of year."

Most people bitten by an infected mosquito have no symptoms but in about 20 per cent of cases, those infected develop a fever, headaches and rash. About one in 150 will experience severe complications such as meningitis and about one in 1,000 will die.

The best way to avoid West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites: wear light-coloured long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially in the early morning and evening; use repellants with DEET and lemon eucalyptus oil; and eliminate standing water in your yard.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Chilliwack MP describes Ottawa shooting
 
Generator stolen from fishing village near Agassiz
 
New mayor sworn in at Kent inaugural meeting
UPDATE: 2 confirmed dead in Marysville, Washington school shooting
 
A short getaway
 
Election 2014: Gayle Martin seeking re-election to Langley City council
A special chest for a special flag
 
Township news, direct from the source
 
Empty warehouse in Chilliwack prompts request for donations

Community Events, October 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 23 edition online now. Browse the archives.