LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — State officials are warning animal owners to take precautions after a sick horse in Clare County tested positive for West Nile virus.

The horse, a Standardbred mare, fell ill on Sept. 18, and showed symptoms like poor coordination and weakness in her hindlimbs before testing positive for West Nile virus, said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland in a news release.

“The horse was unvaccinated against the disease. This case fundamentally highlights why animal owners need to continue taking precautions to protect their animals from mosquito-borne disease,” Wineland said.

It may be October, but officials said the mosquitoes carrying diseases like West Nile will be alive and active until at least one hard freeze involving temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

As of Sept. 28, West Nile in Michigan had affected at least 10 wild birds and 127 mosquito pools throughout the state. Ten reported cases of West Nile in humans also took place this year.

While the mosquitoes are still around, here’s how to keep them away from your animals:

  • Putting livestock in a barn under fans during peak mosquito activity (from dusk to dawn)
  • Eliminating standing water on one’s property
  • Using an insect repellent on animals that is approved for the species
  • Contacting a veterinarian to vaccinate horses against WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases

Officials also warn that you should contact a vet if a horse shows signs of illness, like mild fever and stumbling that can progress to being down and struggling to stand.

Funding is available to test animals for mosquito-borne diseases. For details, you can contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development at 800-292-3939.