State confirms first West Nile death in 2016

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the first death due to West Nile virus this year in Washington. A Benton County woman in her 70s was most likely exposed to infected mosquitoes in Benton County.

Tests to specifically identify West Nile virus as the cause of her illness were performed at the Washington State Public Health Laboratories. A second reported case, a man in his 80s from Benton County, is currently hospitalized with West Nile virus disease. He was also most likely exposed to infected mosquitoes in Benton County.

So far this year, West Nile virus activity has been found in seven counties in eastern Washington. This region continues to be the “hot spot” in our state due to the combination of warm weather, standing water, and vegetation providing ideal habitat for mosquitoes and birds that carry the virus. While eastern Washington is where West Nile virus is most often detected, the species of mosquitoes that transmit the virus are found throughout the state. Regardless of where you live or travel, you should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

West Nile detections and reports include two people in Benton County, a horse in Yakima County, a bird in Spokane County, and mosquito samples from six counties (Adams, Benton, Franklin, Grant, Stevens and Yakima Counties).

With Labor Day weekend approaching and summer coming to an end, people may be spending more time outdoors. The DOH recommends taking these precautions to reduce the chances of being bitten by a mosquito:

Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent when spending time outdoors or in woods.

Stay indoors around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, if possible.

If outdoors during dawn and dusk, wear long sleeves and pants to avoid mosquito bites.

Make sure that door and window screens are in good condition.

Reduce mosquito habitat around the home by dumping standing water from buckets, cans, flower pots, old tires, and frequently change water in kids’ wading pools, birdbaths, pet dishes, and water troughs.

On the web:

– Washington State Department of Health