Photo: James Gathany/CDC
Two Washington state residents have been infected by the West Nile virus, Washington state health officials report.
One case, Pierce County woman in her 70s was likely exposed to the virus while traveling out of state, but the other case, a Yakima man in his 30s, hadn’t left the state.
As of September, a total of 1,993 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 87 deaths, have been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Over 70 percent of the cases have been reported from six states (Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Michigan) and almost 45 percent of all cases have been reported from Texas.
West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. A mosquito becomes infected by biting an infected bird that carries the virus.
Most people infected with the virus have no or only mild symptoms, but the infection can be severe, even fatal, with virus attacking the brain and spinal cord. People over 50 years are the most vulnerable to serious infection.
Symptoms may include fever, headache, body aches, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and coma. People with severe symptoms should contact a health care provider, health officials said.
The best protection is to avoid being bit by mosquitos, health officials say:
Following a few precautions can help people avoid mosquito bites: stay indoors around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active; and use a mosquito repellent when mosquitoes are active. People who spend a lot of time doing things outdoors like farming, hiking, at sports events, or fishing and hunting should be careful to avoid insect bites. Always follow label instructions when using mosquito repellents.
It’s also important to reduce mosquito habitat around the home. Turning over old buckets or cans; emptying water from old tires; and frequently changing water in birdbaths, pet dishes, and water troughs helps eliminate the small puddles of water in which many mosquito larvae grow.
Washington State Department of Health
West Nile virus is primarily a bird disease, and often dead birds are an early sign that the disease is active in an area. People may report dead birds online. No dead birds have been reported with the infection so far this year in the state, health officials said.
To learn more:
- Contact the West Nile virus information line, 866-78-VIRUS.
- Visit the Department of Health’s West Nile virus webpage.
- A map showing where the virus has detected is online.