Horse tests positive for West Nile virus in Lewis County

Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 11:46 AM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Lewis County has had its first case of West Nile Virus in more than a decade.

State officials notified Public Health that a horse in the town of Greig tested positive for the virus.

The county hasn’t had a case of West Nile in either humans or animals in more than 10 years.

Lewis County officials say recent heavy rains and high humidity created ideal conditions for mosquito populations to increase. The serious and sometime fatal disease is spread primarily through mosquito bites.

The virus may cause a mild illness which could include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and occasionally a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Severe infection may lead to encephalitis, meningitis, coma, or death. While the chances of anyone becoming seriously ill are small, people over 50 years of age are at the highest risk for severe illness.

Public health officials say that because there is no human vaccine for West Nile, the best way to fight the disease is to prevent exposure in the first place.

Here are their tips:

- Empty any sources of water, such as tires, kiddie pools, ceramic pots, watering cans, and wheelbarrows.

- Change the water in birdbaths and animal troughs at least twice a week.

- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs.

- Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

- If possible, cover skin with long sleeves, pants, and socks when outdoors during active mosquito season, especially peak mosquito biting time at dusk and dawn.

- Repair or replace all window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

- Clear roof gutters, remove leaf debris from yards and gardens, and clean vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds.

For more information, call Lewis County Public Health at 315-376-5453 or visit their website at