Austin County Horse Dies From West Nile Virus

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After being diagnosed with West Nile Virus during late September, a horse in Austin County has died, despite efforts to save the animal.

Veterinarians say horses suffering from West Nile Virus experience the same affects humans would endure. The virus can cause encephalitis, swelling of the brain and patients can have flu-like symptoms.

The difference between West Nile Virus in horses versus humans is that there is an available vaccine for horses. Last week a horse in Washington County was also diagnosed with West Nile Virus.

The latest statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services record 71 West Nile Virus deaths among humans this year. In addition, 67 horses in 43 Texas Counties have been diagnosed with the virus.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control say recent data suggests 2012 is shaping up to be one of the worst years for the virus in U.S. history.

The best defense against West Nile Virus is to practice safety habits, known as the “Four Ds”:

1. Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

2. Dress in long sleeves and long pants when you are outside.

3. Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

4. Drain standing water where mosquitoes breed. Common breeding sites include old tires, flowerpots and clogged rain gutters.