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West Nile virus detected near Richland

RICHLAND - West Nile virus has been detected in a mosquito sample near the Yakima and Benton County border. Testing at the Oregon State University Laboratory confirmed the WNV virus.

This is the first detection of the virus in Washington this year.

A news conference will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, at 1 p.m. at the Port of Benton Richland Airport. Public health and mosquito control personnel will be available to answer questions at that time.

"We are concerned at Benton County Mosquito Control's finding positive mosquitoes in our area this early in the year," said Dr. Larry Jecha, Benton-Franklin Health District Health Officer. "The earlier West Nile is found in mosquitoes, the longer people will be at risk for the illness in our community."

Benton County Mosquito Control is planning to spray areas near Prosser and West Richland this Thursday evening, beginning at 9 p.m., weather permitting. The product used in the application has the active ingredient Pyrethrin.

Although extensive EPA testing has found that these sprays do not harm birds, pets or humans, residents are encouraged to take precautions while spraying is conducted.

Residents may want to move indoors just before their area is sprayed and remain inside for 20 to 30 minutes until the aerosol cloud dissipates. Wash any fruits and vegetables that may have been exposed to pesticides before eating. Beekeepers are advised to cover their bees.

To ensure effectiveness during the spraying, the wind must be less than 10 miles per hour and no inclement weather present.

If weather conditions are not favorable for spraying, the application will be postponed until conditions improve.

"Benton County Mosquito Control's rapid response may likely slow the spread of the virus and reduce human cases of illness," said Jecha. "In addition to mosquito control's routine efforts, residents and visitors can also help fight mosquitoes throughout the summer and fall: drain standing water, stay inside at dusk to dawn, and wear repellent as needed."

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