Mosquito Samples Positive for West Nile Virus in Yakima County - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Mosquito Samples Test Positive for West Nile Virus in Yakima County

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YAKIMA, Wash.-- The Department of Health has detected the West Nile Virus in mosquito samples collected from Yakima County.

The department says this is an unusual time to detect the virus because they don't usually see it pop up until July or August.

The department says two samples collected in the county were positive and they only began testing last week.

I visited the Yakima Health District today and asked them about such an early detection.

They told me it's likely due to weather conditions this year.

They believe the warm weather spikes we saw in spring, combined with the rains in May, might have kicked off an early start to the mosquito season.

"We know the virus is here in the mosquito population, so our recommendations have been and will continue to be: avoid mosquitoes as much as possible," said Gordon Kelly with the Yakima Health District.

The health district says people should take precautions to avoid mosquitoes as much as possible.

They say to drain and replace any standing water as often as possible including birdbaths and buckets.

They also say if you do have any large bodies of water on your property to either stay away from the area or wear long sleeve shirts and pants to protect yourself from bites.

Health experts say most people bitten by an infected mosquito won't become ill, but they may experience mild symptoms such as a headache or fever. Experts say for some people, a West Nile virus infection can be serious, and even fatal. Severe disease can include meningitis or encephalitis. Some neurological effects of the disease may be permanent. People over 50 and those with weak immune systems are at higher risk for serious illness.

The DOH is also encouraging people living in Washington to use the online reporting system to report dead birds. The Health Department says dead birds are often the first sign that West Nile virus is circulating a community. To access the online reporting system, click here.