First West Nile infection of 2014 reported | Health
The Washington Department of Health has confirmed the first case of in-state West Nile virus since 2012.
A Walla Walla man in his 20's was exposed somewhere near his home and hospitalized. The infection was confirmed by testing at the Washington State Public Health Laboratories in Shoreline.
Two other Washington residents have been diagnosed with the infection this year, both both contracted the disease while traveling out of state. Additional reports of possible infections are currently under investigation.
“The mosquito samples that have tested positive for West Nile virus in eastern Washington this season are a reminder that the virus is here and we should protect ourselves,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “The best prevention is to avoid mosquito bites – at home and while traveling.”
So far 34 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus in 2014, including:
- 11 in Benton County
- 11 in Franklin County
- 12 in Grant County
The number of positive mosquito samples detected this year has already surpassed the number found during the past three years combined.
South central Washington continues to be a hot spot for the virus, with the most in-state acquired human and animal cases having been exposed in this area. Mosquito testing shows the virus is in our state, and the mosquito bites that transmit the virus are found throughout Washington. Regardless of where you are, health officials recommend avoiding mosquito bites to help prevent getting infected.
A few simple precautions can help reduce your chances of getting mosquito bites:
- Stay indoors around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Use a mosquito repellent when spending time outdoors, and consider wearing long sleeves and pants when mosquitoes are most active.
- Be sure that door and window screens are in good condition so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
- Reduce mosquito habitat around the home by dumping standing or stagnant water in old buckets, cans, flower pots or old tires and frequently change water in birdbaths, pet dishes and water troughs.
Last year, only two human infections of West Nile virus were reported, and both were exposed out of state. During 2012, four cases were reported, two of which were in-state acquired while the other two were travel-associated. The state most active year was 2009, in which there were 38 human cases, 95 animal cases (including birds), and 364 positive mosquito samples. It’s impossible to predict what each year may bring, so it’s important to do things to prevent mosquito bites and protect yourself from West Nile virus infection.