TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX)-Several horses across five southern Idaho counties, including Twin Falls, have been sickened by West Nile Virus. According to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), at least one horse had to be euthanized because of the sever case of the disease that is spread by infected mosquitos. On Friday ISDA said in a statement that tests at the Animal Health Laboratory came back positive for West Nile in horses from Twin Falls, Lemhi, Ada, Canyon, and Blaine counties. The horses are recovering under the care of a veterinarian.

West Nile Virus can be prevented in horses with vaccination and by taking precautions to keep mosquitos away from them by placing fans in their area and by removing or replacing standing water. “The WNV vaccination continues to be an essential preventive measure and should be given annually to provide an adequate level of protection from the virus,” said Dr. Scott Leibsle, Idaho State Veterinarian in a prepared statement. “Nearly 98 percent of horses that test positive for WNV are non-vaccinated or under-vaccinated. Horse owners should speak with their veterinarians about the WNV vaccination and other annual core vaccinations as well as how to follow an annual booster schedule. Horses that have been vaccinated for WNV in previous years must receive an annual booster; a one-time vaccination is not enough.”

Humans can also catch the disease if bitten by an infected mosquito, however there isn't a vaccine for people. Most of the time, according to health officials, cases in humans tend to be mild, but for some it can be severe. Typical symptoms in horses include fever and weakness, especially in the hindquarters indicated by a widened stance, leaning or dragging of the hind hooves. ISDA said a horse may become fearful, exhibit chewing movements, muscle tremors, and in extreme cases paralysis.

For more information on West Nile Virus in Idaho go to www.westnile.idaho.gov.

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