First case of West Nile virus confirmed in mosquito sample in Washington this year

MOSES LAKE, Wash. -- A mosquito sample collected in Grant County last week has tested positive for West Nile virus, making it the first detection of the virus in Washington state this 2018 season, the county reported Tuesday.

The sample was taken in the Grant County Mosquito Control District 1, which covers the Moses Lake area, including the Moses Lake Sand Dunes and Potholes.

Last year, eight people were diagnosed with West Nile virus disease from mosquitoes in Eastern Washington. No cases were reported from Grant County, though West Nile virus was found in 14 mosquito samples in the county.

There have not been any human or other animal cases reported yet this year, however, detection of West Nile virus in the mosquito population means there is a potential for spread of the virus to humans and other vulnerable species.

“WNV is back again so if you haven’t already been taking the necessary steps to prevent mosquito bites, now is the time to start,” said Amber McCoy, environmental health specialist for the Grant County Health District.

Authorities say the risk of getting West Nile virus is low, but anyone can become infected. People over 50 years old have the highest risk of serious illness. Most people who are infected with West Nile virus will not get sick. About 1 in 5 people infected will have mild symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches. Even fewer, about 1 in 150 people infected, will have more severe symptoms, including encephalitis.