West Nile Virus Information for 2011

SPOKANE, Wash. – June 14, 2011 – As peak mosquito season rapidly approaches, and with many of the mosquito species in our region shown to carry West Nile virus, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) urges people to reduce their chances of being bitten. To avoid mosquito bites, remember to drain, dress, and use repellant:

  • Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home. Drain and routinely empty anything that holds water, such as gutters, pet bowls, tires, bird baths, etc. Keep water moving in ornamental ponds by recirculation or by installing a fountain.
  • Dress in long-sleeved shirts and long pants when possible
  • Use a mosquito repellent when outdoors in areas where mosquitoes are active

Also, use properly-fitted door and window screens, and stay indoors around dawn and dusk.

Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus when they feed on infected birds, who are the reservoir hosts for the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans when they bite, as well as to birds, horses or other animals. Mosquito activity flares up in the Northwest in summer and continues into the fall.

Less than 1 percent of people who become infected with West Nile virus will develop severe illness—most people who get infected do not develop any symptoms. In 2010, in Washington state, there were two confirmed cases of West Nile virus, and no deaths due to the virus. All residents of areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of getting West Nile virus, but persons over 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

Those who become infected can have symptoms including fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Milder West Nile virus illness improves on its own, and people do not necessarily need to seek medical attention. If a person experiences more severe symptoms—unusually severe headaches or confusion—SRHD encourages them to seek medical attention.

If a resident finds a dead bird, they should not handle it with their bare hands. Information about dead bird reporting, West Nile virus prevention and mosquito repellants can all be found at by searching “West Nile Virus.” Residents may also call the West Nile virus information line at (509) 323-2847, menu option #8.