First cases of West Nile virus confirmed in Washington State

Sep 14 2020, 11:42 am

Two cases of the West Nile virus have been confirmed by the Yakima County Health District and Benton-Franklin Health District.

The Yakima County resident, a man in his 50s, was hospitalized due to the infection, while the Benton County resident, a man in his 60s, was not hospitalized.

So far, eleven mosquito samples have returned positive — seven in Benton county, one in Franklin County, and three in Yakima county.

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

“Most people who are infected with West Nile virus will not get sick. About 1 in 5 people infected will have mild symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches. Even fewer, about 1 in 150 people infected, will have more severe symptoms [including] headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and coma.”

If you feel any of these symptoms after a mosquito bite, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Here are the best ways to protect yourself and your family from the infected mosquitos, according to the WSDH:

  • Avoid mosquito bites
  • Make sure windows and doors are “bug tight.” Repair or replace screens.
  • Stay indoors from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are the most active.
  • Wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and a hat when going into mosquito-infested areas, such as wetlands or woods.
  • Use mosquito repellent when necessary. Read the label and carefully follow instructions. Take special care when using repellent on children.
  • Empty anything that holds standing water – old tires, buckets, plastic covers, and toys.
  • Change water in your birdbaths, fountains, wading pools and animal troughs at least twice a week.
  • Recycle unused containers that may collect water – bottles, cans, and buckets.
  • Make sure roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
  • Fix leaky outdoor faucets and sprinklers.
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