West Nile confirmed in two state residents, preventing mosquito bites key
For more information, contact Kim Papich, SRHD Public Information Officer (509) 324-1539
SPOKANE, Wash. – Sept 9, 2012 – With the Washington State Department of Health’s announcement today that two state residents have been infected with West Nile virus, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) urges people to reduce their chances of being bitten.
A Pierce County woman in her 70s was likely exposed to the virus while traveling out of state; a Yakima man in his 30s hadn’t left the state. Although Spokane remains a relatively low-risk area for the disease, the travel-related case is a reminder to residents to protect themselves when traveling. The best protection against the disease is avoiding mosquito bites.
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 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. Several mosquito samples tested positive for West Nile virus in 2012, all of them in south central Washington, but these two cases are the first human cases in the state in two years. Five mosquito samples tested positive in Washington state in 2011. In 2010, there were two confirmed cases of West Nile virus in the state, and no deaths due to the virus.
Those who become infected with West Nile virus can have symptoms including fever, headache, 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. 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 www.srhd.org by searching “West Nile virus.” Residents may also call the West Nile virus information line at (509) 323-2847, menu option #8.
The state’s West Nile virus information line is 866-78-VIRUS. They also offer an online West Nile virus chart, updated as conditions and detections change. Residents can also visit the DOH Web site at www.doh.wa.gov.