EUGENE, Ore. - The West Nile Virus has spread to various parts of the country within the last year - resulting in more than 1,500 cases. Two human cases have been reported in Oregon and one horse died in Klamath County of the virus.
No cases have been reported in Lane County yet, but health officials are asking horse owners to beware of the potential threat. Dr. Patrick Luedtke, Chief Health Officer for Lane County Public Health said there is always a potential threat for West Nile Virus in western Oregon, but the climate plays an important role.
"I think because we don't have 95 degree days for weeks on end," said Dr. Luedtke. "If it is here, it's likely in very small amounts. Therefore the human risk is minimal."
When horse owner Elizabeth Miglioretto heard the West Nile Virus was spotted in Oregon, she wasted no time to get her two horses vaccinated.
"Early on, it killed entire herds of horses on the east coast and that was frightening enough to me," Miglioretto said.
In addition to vaccinations, horse owners are trying other things to help reduce the risk of West Nile Virus. Miglioretto said she uses other animals to keep the mosquito population under control on her property.
"We put fish in the watering tanks to eat the mosquito larvae," Miglioretto said. "We have lots of birds and lots of bird feeders all over the property and encourage those types of birds that eat mosquitoes."
Public health officials urge residents to get rid of any standing water, mend screen windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. They also recommend residents to wear mosquito repellent between dusk to dawn when outside.