GRANDVIEW - Yakima Health District officials are reporting that a pool of 50 mosquitoes trapped near Grandview earlier this month have tested positive for West Nile virus.
It is the first case of West Nile virus in the state this year.
The mosquitoes were trapped by the Benton County Mosquito Control District as part of an ongoing environmental surveillance for the disease.
With mosquito season heating up, residents and visitors to Yakima County are being reminded by health district officials to stay vigilant against mosquitoes while enjoying summer life outdoors.
"We've had positive environmental samples in our county for the last four years," said Laura Charters, environmental health specialist with the Yakima Health District.
"We know the virus remains active in our area, so the best way to protect ourselves from West Nile virus infection remains to protect ourselves from mosquitoes," Charters said.
Since mosquitoes can breed in very small amounts of water in as little as one week, Charters said an important step in prevention is for community residents to minimize mosquito breeding grounds. She said this is something everyone can do by eliminating standing water around their own homes.
"Reducing mosquito breeding grounds is just the first step," Charters added. "It is essential that people also protect themselves from mosquito bites while outdoors."
She said one way to prevent bites is to avoid being outside when mosquitoes are most active: at dusk and dawn. She said people who have to be outside during these times should cover their skin by wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks and shoes.
Charters also notes that mosquito repellants containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 are safe and effective ways to prevent bites in mosquito-infested areas, but must always be used according to label instructions.
One in five people bitten by an infected mosquito will develop a mild illness that typically goes away without medical intervention within a few days. Symptoms of West Nile virus illness include fever, headache, body aches, rash and swollen lymph glands.
A more serious form of the disease affects about one in 150 of the people who become ill. Symptoms of the more serious West Nile virus illness include neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should consult their medical provider. The very young and the elderly are most susceptible to the more serious form of the disease.