Horse found with West Nile virus in Oneida County

The Oneida County Health Department announced Friday that a horse living on a farm in Vernon has been infected by West Nile virus.

Health officials say the horse had no history of travel and is in no way connected to nearby Vernon Downs Raceway.

The horse has been infected with West Nile encephalitis, an inflammation of the central nervous system caused by infection with West Nile Virus (WNV).

The Heath Department says the young horse first showed symptoms last week and was eventually paralyzed in the hind legs. The virus was confirmed earlier this week.

The horse has shown improvement following veterinarian care, but is still displaying residual weakness in his hind legs.

The Heath Department says none of the other seven horses on the farm have shown signs of the disease.

An animal can become infected with West Nile Virus after being bitten by certain species of mosquitoes which have been infected with the disease, health officials say. Animals cannot transmit West Nile virus to other animals or humans.

The Oneida County Health Department monitors the mosquito population throughout the summer and as yet found no positive pools for West Nile virus.

West Nile virus affects an infected animalâ??s central nervous system and may cause symptoms including: general loss of appetite and depression; ataxia (weakness) in the hind limbs; impaired vision; aimless wandering or walking in circles; convulsions or inability to swallow; hyper-excitability; or coma.