Several mosquitos carrying West Nile virus have been found south of the border in Washington State.
So far, seven mosquito samples in Washington have returned positive: four in Benton county and three in Yakima county. None have turned up positive for West Nile in BC so far.
While no human cases have yet been reported, the Washington State Department of Health (WSDH) has urged locals to take precautions to prevent disease.
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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.
According to the WSDH, only about one in five people infected with West Nile will develop symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches. Even fewer people, about one out of every 150 people infected with West Nile, will have more severe symptoms such as neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and coma.
Anyone who develops these symptoms after a mosquito bite is advised to contact their health care provider.
The WSDH has recommended several ways to reduce your chances of getting West Nile:
- 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.