GRANDVIEW - The Yakima Valley has its first reported case of West Nile virus since 2002, according to a report from the Benton County Mosquito Control District.
The virus was found in one of the Mosquito Control District's adult mosquito test samples located in a wetlands area between Grandview and Prosser on the Benton -Yakima County line, according to James Henriksen of the control board.
Henriksen said steps have already been taken to eradicate the larva and adult mosquitoes found in the area.
He said the Benton County Mosquito Control Board used ground and aerial methods of insect control over the course of the past 24-hours to eliminate the infestation. He said the control board will further step up its monitoring to control the mosquitoes in the area.
The sample is the first positive sample of West Nile virus detected in the state since 2002, he said, adding that monitoring for the virus has been on-going since 1998.
Henriksen said the board uses a variety of monitoring programs as an early warming system in areas where mosquitoes are present. He explained that by observing areas, health agencies can control the mosquitoes which carry the virus before they reach epidemic proportions.
The early detection also helps to alert the public to the presence of the virus and raise public awareness, he added.
By finding the sample, it now means that the West Nile virus has found its way into the Valley's eco-system, said Dr. Larry Jecha of the Benton-Franklin Health Department
"It is unknown how long it will take to become well established and for us to see the effect in birds, horses and humans," Jecha said.
Jecha said this is a wake-up call for residents to take protective measures seriously and to avoid mosquito bites.
Jecha reminds residents to eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, such as flooded pastures, clogged gutters and birdbaths or other water holding receptacles.
He also cautions residents to avoid mosquito-infested areas at dusk and dawn and to wear protective clothing, such as long pants and long-sleeve shirts when outdoors.
Additional protective advise can be found at www.bfhd.wa.gov.