SPOKANE, Wash. - State health officials say mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus are being reported in Eastern Washington’s Benton and Yakima counties.
The Washington Department of Health said Tuesday that seven positive samples have been reported in Washington so far this year. No human cases have yet been reported.
In Washington, the West Nile virus season starts as early as July and can last until early October.
Officials say it can be a serious, even fatal, illness that can affect people, horses, birds, and other animals.
The virus is almost always spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito, which becomes infected after feeding on birds that carry the virus. Health officials urge people to avoid mosquito bites.
The majority of people infected with the virus do not get sick. About one in five will develop symptoms that go away without medical treatment. Even fewer, about one in 150 people infected, will have more severe symptoms, officials said.
Severe symptoms may include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and coma. People with any of those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider right away.