Community

Health District warns against West Nile virus

West Nile virus has not yet shown up in Snohomish County this year, according to the Snohomish Health District, but it was found recently in mosquito samples in Yakima and Franklin counties, and has caused 14 deaths and more than 1,100 illnesses reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention elsewhere in the nation this summer.

Recent research indicates higher rates of West Nile infection in climates with high temperatures, which explains the presence in eastern Washington. No virus has been found this year in western Washington.

Mosquitoes are less of a threat or nuisance to those who take the following steps to protect themselves and their animals:

  • Get rid of old tires and other containers that catch water, and dump the water in wading pools, pet dishes and bird baths at least once a week.
  • Make sure the screens on all your doors and windows are tight, and repair any rips.
  • Schedule outdoor activities after dawn from dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, and follow the directions on the containers.
  • Wear long pants and sleeves outdoors when mosquitoes are active.

Most people bitten by a mosquito carrying the West Nile Virus won’t become ill, yet some may have mild symptoms, including headache and fever, that go away without treatment. For about one in every 150 people who are infected, the illness can be severe, even deadly. Some people may develop meningitis or encephalitis, and some neurological effects may be permanent. People 50 years and older, and those with weak immune systems, are at higher risk for serious illness.

West Nile is a very serious infection in horses. Talk to your veterinarian about West Nile vaccine for your horses.

For more West Nile Virus information and to report dead birds, log onto www.doh.wa.gov or call 1-866-788-4787.

The Snohomish Health District collected hundreds of birds and mosquito samples between 2002-07. Only one virus-positive bird was found in 2002, and two in 2006. The local surveillance program was discontinued in 2008.

 

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