TACOMA, Washington – The West Nile virus has officially arrived in the mosquitoes of the Puget Sound area.
Routine sampling of wetland mosquitoes near the port of Tacoma was tested positive for West Nile virus on Aug. 14. For the first time, the virus was detected in mosquitoes west of the Cascades, but authorities emphasize that there are still no cases in humans, birds or horses have appeared.
"People should suspect infection of the West Nile virus in Pierce County and take action to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and mosquito bites," said Nigel Turner, director of the Department of Communicable Diseases at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, in a press release announcing the discovery. "Most importantly, know when to care if bitten.
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West Nile is transmitted through a simple mosquito bite, but health officials stress less than one percent of people are diagnosed with developing a serious illness, and the CDC says about only 1
People at higher risk for complications include people 60 years of age or older, those with debilitating Immune System
Those who experience symptoms are likely to experience headache, fever, muscle and joint pains, swollen lymph nodes, and rash, with symptoms appearing 2-14 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.
"Those with more severe symptoms – such as severe headaches, stiff neck, or confusion – should see a doctor," health officials said.
West Nile virus was detected in birds in Pierce County in 2002, 2008, and 2009. In 2006, humans were positive for the virus.
Washington has not seen any human cases of West Nile virus, but nationwide, 231 cases were reported and eight deaths were attributed.