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ELKHORN

A Walworth County horse has tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis, and the county’s division of public health is warning residents to watch out for mosquitoes that could be carrying the virus.

The state has recorded no cases in humans this year, according to a Monday news release. Only three human cases were reported in Wisconsin from 1964 to 2017.

The virus is not spread through person-to-person contact or between animals and humans, the release states. It spreads to humans and animals through the bite of infected mosquitoes, which get the virus from infected birds.

The horse’s positive test shows there are such mosquitoes in the area, according to the release.

Many of those infected by the virus do not get sick. However, some who do might develop encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, the release states.

Early symptoms of encephalitis include fever, headache, chills and vomiting. In an advanced stage, the illness can lead to disorientation, seizures and coma or death, according to the release.

The virus has no specific treatment.

Horse owners can vaccinate their horses against the virus, the release states. Signs of infection in horses include depression, loss of appetite, drooping eyelids and lower lip, blindness, paralysis, and death.

The best prevention is avoiding mosquito bites. People should limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, remove stagnant water from items around their properties, and make sure windows and door screens keep mosquitoes out, according to the release.

The state Department of Health Services’ website has more information about the virus at dhs. wisconsin.gov/mosquito/eee.htm.

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