New Mexico public health officials are warning of elevated concerns over a West Nile Virus (WNV) outbreak as the first cases of equine illness related to the disease have been reported, one case each in Bernalillo and San Juan Counties. Both horses had to be euthanized.

Health officials says in addition to animal WNV, one human case has been confirmed; a 45-year-old woman in San Juan County woman became ill with last week and is currently being treated and expected to recover. The identity of the woman is being withheld.

These incidents are cause for concern and officials are advising residents of the state to be aware of the dangers that WNV poses to the public and to horse owners.

One of the horses resided at a property in Albuquerque’s South Valley area and reportedly exhibited signs of the WNV infection early last week. Officials say the animal had not been vaccinated against the disease. The case comes two months into New Mexico’s monsoon season, which has given rise to larger populations of mosquitoes.

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Traditionally, August and September are the optimum months for the spread of West Nile Virus. Both horses and humans are likely targets for the virus.

National Weather Service officials say July brought the heaviest rains on record to parts of New Mexico, including Bernalillo and surrounding counties. Officials say because of the heavy rains they are warning area residents and horse owners that the days and weeks ahead could be especially problematic for proliferation of the virus.

"We encourage all Bernalillo County residents, including those in unincorporated parts of the county, to report mosquito problems by calling 311," said Dr. Paul Smith, a manager for the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department.