Two birds from the North Potholes Reserve near Moses Lake are the first in Washington to test positive for West Nile Virus this year.
The birds, an American white pelican and a mallard duck, were discovered by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife this summer. Wildlife officials were looking into why there has been an unusual number of dead birds at the reserve in Grant County.
Last year was the state's most active year with 38 human infection cases including the first death from the virus. It was also found in numerous dead birds, horses, and mosquito samples.
"We haven't seen West Nile activity as strong this year as we have in previous years, but that doesn't mean we're out of the woods," said Gregg Grunenfelder, environmental health division assistant secretary for the Department of Health. "Mosquitoes are still out there so it's important people continue to take steps to avoid mosquito bites."
Health leaders say, even though it's getting late in the mosquito season, people should still continue to protect themselves against the virus. During the off season, you should remove standing water around your home, clean gutters and fix outdoor, leaky faucets or sprinklers, and keep fresh water in birdbaths and pet dishes if you have them.