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Belmont horse tests positive for West Nile virus

A horse in Belmont has tested positive for the West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne and occasionally deadly illness that more typically causes flu-like symptoms.

State health officials urged residents in Belmont as well as seven neighboring communities – Northfield, Tilton, Sanbornton, Laconia, Gilford, Gilmanton and Canterbury – to take precautions against mosquitoes.

“Though parts of the state saw frost (Wednesday) night, we are not through with mosquito season yet,” Dr. Jose Montero, the state’s public health director, said in a statement.

According to the statement, symptoms of West Nile virus typically appear between four and 10 days after being bitten. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 people infected develop a fever; fewer than 1 in 100 develop a serious and potentially fatal neurological disease.

“If you or someone you know is experiencing flu-like symptoms, including fever and headache, contact your local medical provider,” Montero said.

The announcement comes two days after the state reported that another horse, this one in Deerfield, had tested positive for another mosquito-borne illness, eastern equine encephalitis, which can be deadly. That prompted similar mosquito-precaution warnings in Deerfield, Allenstown, Candia, Epsom, Hooksett, Northwood, Nottingham and Raymond.

The most important mosquito precaution is using insect repellent, Montero said – specifically, a repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535.

More information about West Nile virus and EEE is available from the Department of Health and Human Services’ toll-free hotline, 866-273-6453.

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