Mosquito tests positive for West Nile virus in Kennewick

The test is the first positive West Nile case found in a mosquito in the state of Washington in 2022.
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James Gathany/CDC via CNN

KENNEWICK – The Benton County Mosquito Control District announced the first positive case of West Nile virus in a mosquito has been found in Kennewick. It is the first positive test in the State of Washington so far in 2022, according to information released by the Benton-Franklin Health District Monday.

A positive test in a human has not yet been detected in the state, but the health district said people should still practice West Nile awareness as we get further into the summer. “Most cases of West Nile virus are mild,” stated Dr. Amy Person with the health district. Person is the health officer for Benton and Franklin Counties. However, if you spend time outdoors and come into contact with mosquitos, Person said it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a more serious condition.

Symptoms of West Nile virus can vary. According to the health district, nearly 80% of people who are infected with the virus won’t experience any symptoms. Nearly 20% may experience mild symptoms like fever, body aches, nausea and in some cases, a mild rash on the chest, stomach and back. A small percentage of people could suffer serious illness if infected with West Nile. These illnesses include vision loss, paralysis, tremors and even death. While the health district said people over the age of 50 are more likely to experience severe illness, it can happen to anyone, especially those with medical conditions that affect the immune system.

Person said it’s important for people who have spent time outside and have come into contact with mosquitos to watch for symptoms to appear between three and 14 days after exposure. It’s also important to be aware of the virus if you come into contact with a dead bird. The health district should be contacted and will give people instructions on how to handle the situation. Do not handle the dead bird with your bare hands.

Person said people should remember the 4 Ds to avoid coming into contact with mosquitos.

  1. DEET: Use insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin.
  2. DRAIN: Drain standing water around your house to prevent mosquitos from breeding.
  3. DAWN/DUSK: Mosquitos are most active during dawn and dusk. Avoid these times of the day outside if you are in a heavy mosquito area.
  4. DRESS: If you are likely to encounter mosquitos while out and about, wear long sleeved shirts and pants to protect yourself from bites.