Madison, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- In St. Croix County, an unvaccinated horse is the first in Wisconsin to be diagnosed with West Nile Virus this season.
With a confirmed diagnosis, horse owners are urged to vaccinate their animals against two common mosquito–borne diseases: the West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).
Both diseases could cause encephalitis or swelling of the brain. 90% of horses diagnosed with EEE die from the infection, while WNV kills more than a third of all cases. Symptoms, for both diseases, are similar.
They include: twitching, loss of appetite, fever, depression, aimless wandering, blindness, lack of coordination, weakness, drooping lower lips and eyelids, circling and paralysis.
The viruses can't be spread from horse to horse and while people can contract both viruses they can't catch it from an infected horse. Other precautions can be taken to limit horses to mosquito exposure.
These precautions include: keeping rain gutters clean and draining them properly, keeping fresh water in bird baths by changing the water once a week, using chlorine to keep pools, outdoor hot tubs and saunas clean, draining water from pool covers, keeping horses in barns from dusk to dawn and by removing items in the surrounding areas that could collect water such as tires, plastic containers and tin cans.