LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) - The threat of West Nile Virus has been elevated to "high" in the town of Ludlow, after the discovery of a horse there that has the virus.
The Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that the first case of West Nile in a Massachusetts horse this year was made in Ludlow.
The horse is still living, though the Ludlow Board of Health is not releasing information on the animal's location at this time.
As a result of the discovery, the threat level for West Nile has been raised to "High" (the second-highest threat level) for Ludlow, and "Moderate" for the surrounding cities and towns of Springfield, Chicopee, Granby, Belchertown, Palmer, and Wilbraham.
Though the state has officially elevated the risk, the virus cannot be transmitted from the horse to humans, according to Francine Rusiecki, RN, Director of Nurses for the Ludlow Board of Health. She told 22News that if a mosquito that had bitten the horse later bites a human, the virus still cannot be transmitted.
Town officials have notified residents to take normal precautions in order to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
The announcement about the horse in Ludlow came the same day that a human case of West Nile was confirmed in a man in southern Middlesex County. So far, there have been no human cases in western or central Massachusetts.
West Nile, which has infected some 30,000 Americans since 1999, can cause fever, swelling, vomiting, headache, and in more serious cases, stupor, coma, vision loss, and paralysis.
Despite its potential severity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 80% of people infected do not develop any symptoms.
To read more about what the risk ratings mean, and how you can protect yourself and your pets from the disease, visit the website of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.