12 confirmed cases of West Nile in horses in Benton & Franklin Counties - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

12 confirmed cases of West Nile in horses in Benton & Franklin Counties

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KENNEWICK, Wash.--  More horses are confirmed to have West Nile virus in Benton and Franklin counties, and health leaders say this could be the worst year for the virus.

Eleven horses in Benton county and one in Franklin County have tested positive.  The case in Franklin Co. is the first known case in a horse there, and this year is first year they've ever had positive results.  Of the horses in our area with the virus, four have had to be euthanized.

Susan Shelton with the Benton-Franklin Health District says every horse with West Nile was not vaccinated or didn't have their current annual booster.  Shelton explains she doesn't think this is the last we'll see of the virus.  "This virus just became established in our state a few years ago, and it's starting to build up now in numbers inside our birds.  So, it'll actually be here every single year, we envision.  I think this is just the beginning of it all.  We started having quite a few cases last year. [Last year] We had the most we've ever had.  Now we've increased those numbers again this year."

To give you an idea of the increase in West Nile, here are the numbers of cases in horses statewide in Washington since 2005.

2005- 1

2006- 6

2007- 9

2008- 41

2009 (So far)- 32