Washington's first death from West Nile virus - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washington's first death from West Nile virus

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YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. --  The Washington State Department of Health confirms the state's first human death due to West Nile virus. 71-year old Ruth Rosalee Rodgers of Sunnyside died Sept. 19th at a Yakima hospital. Tests were conducted to confirm that her death was West Nile related.

Rodgers' husband said she became ill after returning from a trip to Denver on Sept. 1st. Health Department leaders say she could've been exposed to the virus in either area, both of which have virus-carrying mosquitoes.

There have been 31 other confirmed human cases of West Nile so far this year, making 2009 Washington's highest confirmed human case year since the virus was first detected in Washington.

There is no vaccine to prevent West Nile virus infection in people. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid mosquito bites. Now that cooler fall weather has arrived, mosquito activity is winding down. However, some mosquitoes may still be out.