West Nile Found In Holmes County Horse

*The Cuyahoga County Board of Health is spraying to kill mosquitoes that could possibly be carrying the deadly West Nile virus. For specific spraying information, go to www.ccbh.net or call (216) 443-5679.

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Department of Agriculture, for the first time, has confirmed a horse infected with the West Nile Virus, the agency said Wednesday.

The disease was found in a horse stabled in Holmes County when the owner noticed lameness in the animal's rear legs on July 19, Agriculture Director Fred Dailey said.

A veterinarian collected blood samples and sent them to the agency's laboratory, which forwarded them to a lab in Iowa for testing. The department would not release the names of the owner or the veterinarian. The horse was put to death.

The virus was first found in the state in a blue jay in July 2001. It is carried by mosquitos and can be fatal to birds and horses but rarely to humans. However, 71 cases have been diagnosed in Louisiana and five people have died, health officials said.

Most people bitten by an infected mosquito don't become noticeably ill, but some develop flu-like symptoms, and people with weak immune systems can get encephalitis, a potentially fatal brain infection.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)