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Monday, August 28th, 2006 -- 10:11 AM

The state's first human case of West Nile Virus this year was confirmed last week. Officials say a Portage County woman contract the mosquito-borne virus, but made a full recover.

While West Nile is nothing to mess around with in the human population, it is an even bigger risk to the horse population ? especially in our area this year.

?We have had only four positive cases of West Nile in horses this summer ? two of those have been in Clark County,? explains Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection spokesperson Donna Gilson.

?One was reported back on May 29th, the other was on July 30th,? Gilson says.

30% of horses that contract West Nile will die, Gilson says.

Unfortunately, the ailment seems to be here to stay.

?In 2002, the first summer we had West Nile Virus in horses in Wisconsin, we had 167 confirmed cases; last year, we had five,? Gilson notes. The drop is attributed to better vaccination practices and less reporting.

While it is hard to tell if a horse has a headache, the symptoms of the virus seem to be similar in horses and humans.

?They might be stumbling, they might seem depressed, have a fever, have weakness in their limbs. They might be grinding their teeth, circling aimlessly ? you can tell something is wrong,? Gilson explains.

If you suspect your horse may have West Nile, you should report it to your local veterinarian. Health officials say by finding infected animals, they can get a better understanding of where the human population might be at risk.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.