West Nile Virus: Euthanized Loxahatchee horse had West Nile Virus, health officials say

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. -- A horse euthanized in Loxahatchee last week had West Nile Virus, county officials said Tuesday.

It was the second case among Florida horses this year, according to the Palm Beach County Health Department.

Infected mosquitoes are known to spread the virus – and following the heels of Tropical Storm Isaac, recent heavy rains and standing water could increase mosquito populations in Palm Beach County.

"Mosquitoes are nearly always present in our tropical climate," said Health Department Director Alina Alonso in a release. "As always, residents and visitors need to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites since there is no 'season' for mosquitoes."

Health Department officials say horse owners can protect their animals by keeping vaccinations and boosters renewed. West Nile infection is preventable in vaccinated horses, while there is no vaccine for humans.

About 28 cases have been reported among Florida residents this year.

Palm Beach County residents can prevent the chance of mosquito bites by draining standing water around the home and covering doors and windows with screens.

Air-conditioning created unfavorable conditions for mosquitoes.

For more information on mosquitoes and the infections they can spread, visit http://www.pbchd.com .