SEATTLE – For the first time in two years, a person has contracted West Nile Virus in Washington state.
The state health department said a Walla Walla County man in his 20s was likely exposed near his home and is in the hospital.
Two other Washington residents, a King County man in his 70s and a Grays Harbor woman in her 50s, have been diagnosed this year, but both contracted the virus in other states.
The state says 34 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile Virus in 2014. Those were in Benton, Franklin and Grant counties. That’s more than the last three years combined (28.)
There were two human infections in Washington in 2013, but both were contracted out of state. Two of the four cases reported in 2012 were contracted in the state. The most active year was 2009 when Washington had 38 human cases and 95 animal cases. The state says south-central Washington is the hot spot for the virus.
Here are tips to avoid 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.
Most people infected by West Nile virus may have no symptoms. Others could develop fever, headaches or body aches. A small percentage of people could contract encephalitis, meningitis, or other complications.
People over the age of 50 are at highest risk for serious illness.