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West Nile Virus Confirmed In Tennessee And Mississippi by Kevin DeBusk West Nile Virus (WNV) has made its way to the Mid-South. Shelby County, Tennessee officials confirmed September 17 nine birds tested positive and the Mississippi State Veterinarians office confirmed two equine case in Lee County. Until now the only positive reports in the region came from Kentucky and Louisiana. Last month Kentucky and Louisiana confirmed equine cases. "I don't think there's need for wide spread panic," Tennessee State Veterinarian Dr. Ron Wilson said. "This is just one of several viral diseases that can cause encephalitis in horses and people. "The percent of infection is very small. It's less than one percent and the mortality rate for WNV isn't nearly as high as with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)." He continued saying; "We're monitoring the situation. We have some on going investigation into a couple of horses but Tennessee has nothing to date. "We're defaulting to the cautious side. If a veterinarian has a case he wants us to look at to rule WNV out we will." Dr. James Watson, State Veterinarian for Mississippi, added; "It's a concern being a new disease but compared to EEE it's not nearly as deadly. "There have only been a hundred and fifteen or twenty cases reported and out of those only about twenty percent die or have to be euthanized." He continued saying it's hard top know the actual number of infected horses because some horses never demonstrate any symptoms. Both veterinarians agree concern over WNV is about over for this year. "I think it's going to be here with us in the future," Dr. Wilson stated. "It has expanded significantly this year, over the last two years. "Outbreaks of viral encephalitis in horses is a seasonal occurrence due to the prevalence of mosquitoes. Right now we're not far from being outside the season, with cooler temperatures." "Any place that had EEE you can expect to find WNV," Dr. Watson said. "Fortunately it's cooling off so the threat is diminishing for this year." So what are their suggestions for the coming year? Cut down on mosquito populations by reducing areas of risk and being properly prepared. "Like EEE we may have to vaccinate for it," Dr. Watson remarked. "But we're not to that point yet." Dr. Wilson said regarding the vaccine he would look toward seeing what the status of it is after all the data is in. It's still in the conditional stages and we don't know if there will be any problems from it or if it's successful.
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