(Little Rock, Arkansas-AP) — Arkansas health officials say a horse in Fort Smith has been diagnosed as having West Nile virus. The Health Department recommends that residents take precautions to protect against the mosquito-borne disease. No human cases have been diagnosed this year in Arkansas. Last year, five cases were fatal. The department says residents should limit outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most likely to bite, use an insect repellent containing DEET and eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed. Fewer than one percent of West Nile cases result in severe illness. Most people who are infected show no symptoms or mild symptoms, such as headache and fever. In rare severe cases, death can result after high fever, severe headache, stiff neck and altered mental state. The department says it will start surveillance Monday for dead blue jays. By testing the dead birds, the department hopes to learn where the virus is spreading.
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