The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the first death due to West Nile virus this year in Washington. The decedent was a female in her 70s, was a resident of Benton County and was most likely exposed to infected mosquitoes in Benton County. 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. Currently, there are no cases of West Nile virus disease in Grays Harbor County.
As of August 18th, 2016, West Nile virus activity has been found in seven counties in eastern Washington: Benton, Yakima, Spokane, Adams, Franklin, Grant, and Stevens counties. Although eastern Washington is where most West Nile virus is detected, the mosquito species that carry West Nile virus are found throughout the state.
Action requested: Remind all patients about the precautions they can take to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent when outdoors or in the woods.
Stay indoors around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, if possible.
If outdoors during dusk and dawn, wear long sleeves and pants to avoid bites.
Prevention Tips for the Home:
Make sure your door and window screens are in good condition, and mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
Reduce mosquito habitat around the home by dumping standing water from buckets, tires, cans, flower pots, etc. Frequently change the water in kids’ wading pools, bird baths, pet dishes, and water troughs.
Symptoms: Most people bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus will not get sick. Some people will develop mild symptoms (including headache, fever, body aches that go away without treatment). In rare instances, however, West Nile virus can be very serious and/or fatal. Severe disease can include meningitis or encephalitis. The risk for serious illness is highest among people over 60 years of age, and those with certain medical conditions (such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants).
Washington State Department of Health, West Nile virus information line: 1-866-788-4787
For questions or further information, contact Lisa Leitz, RN, Communicable Disease Program Coordinator, at 532-8631 x4044.
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