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More cases of WNV reported
Barstow family's horse diagnosed with virus spreading in county
BARSTOW • Throughout San Bernardino County, the West Nile Virus continues to spread, according to county health officials.
Although no new human cases have been reported since a Victorville resident spent time in a hospital recently for it and recovered, there have been a growing number of positive tests in animals, according to the county’s Department of Public Health.
Last week, the county department reported positive tests in five sentinel chickens and one mosquito in Needles, which prompted officials to warn, “people should assume WNV is present throughout the region and take safety precautions accordingly.”
On Monday, a Barstow family was dealing with the virus literally in their own backyard.
One of two rescue horses owned by the Wessels was diagnosed with WNV by a doctor at the Apple Valley Equine Hospital last Wednesday, according to Shawn Wessel.
“We came to feed him and I noticed him stumbling,” Wessel said about the horse called Cleatus Lee. “At first, I thought he hurt his leg. He was alert, but he just had this look about him.”
The virus causes inflammation of the brain or spinal cord and can be deadly, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because it was detected early enough in Cleatus Lee and the horse is just 11 years old and taking well to treatment, doctors have since given him greater than 50 percent odds to survive, Wessel said.
County health officials urge the public to take simple precautions in light of recent cases.
So far in 2013, 118 WNV-positive mosquito pools have been identified in the county and 18 more people have been infected statewide than in 2012, according to the county’s Department of Public Health.
The virus is most commonly transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito; Wessel believed Cleatus Lee contracted it from a bird.
Officials say its important for the public to remove stagnant pools of water from their properties; avoid spending time where mosquitos are most active; apply insect repellent containing DEET; dress as covered as possible; and equip doors and windows with tight-fitting screens.
Pool-owners are also urged to keep their pools clean.
In the eyes of Wessel’s daughter, Miranda Wessel-Allmon, the horse she rides and competes with as a reigning rodeo queen is a fighter.
“If they don’t have the will to fight, (they’ll just die),” she said. “He’s stubborn and has a fighting attitude.”
Call 800-442-2283 to report green pools and other sources of mosquito breeding to the county’s Mosquito and Vector Control Program.
Call 877-968-2473 or visit http://www.westnile.ca.gov to report dead birds or squirrels to the state’s Department of Public Health.
Shea Johnson can be reached at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com or 760-256-4126.