The first West Nile virus detection this season in Washington state was found in mosquitoes collected in Yakima County this week by Benton County Mosquito Control District employees.
It’s the first sign that the virus is active in the state this summer.
Dave Kangiser with the Department of Health said the mosquitoes tested were located off Euclid Road in Grandview’s Sand Hill Road neighborhood.
Jean Grubenhoff is a resident living within the vicinity of the confirmed finding. “As a Lower Valley resident who lives in Grandview, I am so glad that the mosquito control district has made it a priority to test and notify people of a potential problem this year,” said Grubenhoff.
“After seeing a friend of mine who had West Nile Virus, I am so grateful that we can all be made aware and take precautions against this debilitating virus.”
Department of Health and local partners like the Benton County Mosquito Control District started its yearly trapping and testing of mosquitoes that can carry the virus. Each year since 2005, West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes, birds or animals in south-central Washington, and occasionally in other areas of the state.
Dead birds can be the first sign that the virus is in an area and Department of Health officials encourage people to report dead birds online. West Nile virus activity in Washington varies from year to year, so it’s not known how many people may become sick with the virus this year.
The pattern of West Nile virus in the state shows there are some areas in south-central Washington where mosquitoes carrying the virus thrive, say state health officials. Areas with a combination of warm weather, irrigation water, trees and other vegetation provide ideal habitat for mosquitoes and birds known to carry the virus.
People can help reduce the number of mosquitoes near their homes by emptying items holding standing water like old tires, buckets and flowerpots, and changing water in birdbaths, fountains, wading pools and animal troughs at least twice a week. Mosquitoes only need a small amount of water to reproduce. Repair or replace screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside.
Avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to prevent infection. Use bug repellent and wear long pants and long sleeves outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active to help avoid mosquito bites.
Most people infected with West Nile virus won’t become ill. About one in five people who are infected with the virus will develop a fever and other symptoms such as a headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash that go away without getting medical treatment.
About 1 in 150 people who are infected can have very serious neurological illness, which on rare occasions can cause permanent neurological effects or be fatal. People with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension or kidney disease are at greater risk for serious illness. Updated West Nile virus information, prevention tips and testing information are available online at doh.wa.gov.