Detection of West Nile virus found in Eastern Washington

(PRESS RELEASE/Washington Department of Health)

Mosquitos carrying West Nile virus (WNV) are being reported in both Benton and Yakima counties; while no human cases have yet been reported, now is the time to take precautions to prevent disease

Seven positive samples have been reported in Washington so far this year.

In past years, WNV has been detected across the state. In Washington, WNV season starts as early as July and can last until early October.

WNV can be a serious, even fatal, illness. It can affect people, horses, birds, and other animals. WNV is almost always spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected after feeding on birds that carry the virus. There is no evidence that WNV can be spread by direct contact with infected people or animals.

It is important that you take care to avoid mosquito bites. A few simple actions can protect against mosquito bites.

  • Use an effective, EPA-registered insect repellent.
  • Cover up – wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors.
  • Avoid mosquito prime time. Many mosquitoes bite in the evening between dusk and dawn. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing during evening and morning hours.

Mosquito-proof your home by installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitos outside. Reduce mosquito-breeding areas around your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis.

The majority of people infected with WNV do not get sick. About one in five will develop a fever or other symptoms that go away without medical treatment. Even fewer, about one in 150 people infected, will have more severe symptoms.

Severe symptoms may include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and coma. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider right away.