West Nile virus found in local horse


   A horse in Jefferson County has tested positive for West Nile virus infection, according to Dr. DeBess of the Oregon State University veterinary diagnostics laboratory.
   Madras veterinarian Dr. Mark McFarland diagnosed the case and submitted the blood specimen for testing.
   According to McFarland's wife Joan, who runs his Madras office, the infected horse was from an area within 10 miles of the Madras city limits, and they received the positive results last week.
   It may be late in the season, fall frosts just around the corner, but horses are still at risk.
   "Yes, mosquitoes are still alive. Mark is recommending that even though it is late in the season, horses should definitely still have a vaccination shot or booster," Joan McFarland said.
   This is especially true if a horse hasn't had any West Nile vaccine, because a series of two shots, one month apart is required for the animal to be safe. After the series is given, just an annual booster shot is required.
   Horseowners are encouraged to contact their local veterinarian for vaccinations, or if they are comfortable giving shots themselves, the vaccine can be purchased from a vet or at local feed stores.
   This is the first West Nile case documented in Jefferson County. Although mosquitoes carry the virus, the mosquitoes tested here both last year and the current year have tested negative, and there have not been any human cases in the county.
   With temperatures staying warm, all Jefferson County residents are advised by the public health department to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, especially while spending time outdoors.
   The health department recommends five steps people can take to avoid mosquito bites:
   . Screen doors and windows tightly. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
   . Wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts and other protective clothing when outside.
   . Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, such as gutters, birdbaths and old tires.
   . Avoid playing or working outside at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
   . Use mosquito repellent, preferably one that contains DEET, Picardin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow label directions carefully. Never apply DEET directly to children or put it on children's hands. Apply repellent first to your own hands, and then onto the child.