TACOMA, Washington – Health officials found the West Nile virus earlier this month as they complained of mosquitoes near the port of Tacoma.
The samples came from the Gog-le-hi-te Wetlands near the Puyallup River north of Highway 509, on August 14th.
"Humans should assume West Nile virus infection is possible in Pierce County and take action to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and avoid mosquito bites," said Nigel Turner, director of the Department of Communicable Diseases. "Most importantly, you know when to bother when you're bitten."
It's the first time that West Nile virus has been found in mosquitoes west of the Cascades in Washington. It was found in birds in Pierce County in 2002, 2008 and 2009, and two people tested positive for the virus in 2006.
It was the only example in Pierce County this year, but the Department of Health said It will set up and monitor five more locations across the region.
"Although sporadic, we believe that more tests are likely to expose more cases of West Nile virus," Turner said.
The good news? The mosquito season usually ends in mid-September.
Nearly every state sees West Nile virus in birds, mosquitoes or humans at some point.
Here's more from the Ministry of Health: [1
It only takes one bite to get the virus from an infected mosquito, and the West Nile virus can pose a health threat to all exposed individuals. But less than 1 percent of people infected with the virus will develop a serious illness. Some have a higher risk of developing a serious illness, including those over the age of 60 or older, those with weakened immune systems, or underlying medical conditions
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of West Nile include headache, fever, muscle and joint pains, swollen lymph nodes and a rash. The symptoms usually develop 2 to 14 days after an infected mosquito bites. Those with more severe symptoms – such as severe headaches, stiff neck, or confusion – should seek medical help.
Health officials have not seen any cases of West Nile virus in Pierce County among people, birds or horses. West Nile activities usually show up early in mid-August. People should take action to control mosquito populations and avoid bite exposure. Drain, Dress, and Repel
You can take simple steps to prevent mosquito bites and reduce mosquito breeding sites in your home.
Routinely empty and empty everything that contains water, such as rain gutters, bowls, tires, bird baths, at least twice a week. Store water in ornamental ponds by circulating water or installing a well.
Put on long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
Outdoor mosquito repellents use against mosquitoes are active
Use properly installed door and window panes and stay indoors at dusk and at dusk.
There is no vaccine for humans, but one for horses. About 1 in 3 horses suffering from the virus die. A horse in the state had a confirmed case of WNV in Grant County in 2018. Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about the West Nile vaccine. For more information, visit the WSDA website.
If you find a dead bird, be aware that some birds can die from the West Nile virus. Do not treat dead birds with your bare hands. Visit www.tpchd.org/westnile for information on dead birds, prevention of West Nile virus and mosquito repellents.