Yakima County Mosquito Control Looks to Control Recent West Nile - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima County Mosquito Control Looks to Control Recent West Nile Cases

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SELAH, WA. -- Every summer mosquitoes become an important topic because of the West Nile virus. In Yakima County, a couple of recent new cases have some people on edge. 

West Nile is a virus that will never completely go away. But there are people working all over the state to make sure the virus doesn't get out of hand. In Yakima County, there is one person who has been in the industry for over 30 years. And despite working with pests, mosquitoes, he says he loves his job.

West Nile can be an extremely dangerous disease transmitted by a mosquito bite. Symptoms can include paralysis, coma even death. And chances are, you've already been exposed to it. 

"If you've been bit by mosquitoes and you live in Washington State, you have probably been exposed to West Nile virus," Stephen Ingalls said. "And you've built normal antibodies to it and you'll be fine."

You're looking at the man in charge of keeping Yakima's mosquito population low. On Monday, Steve came and set up these traps to capture live mosquitoes for West Nile testing. 

It can be hard capturing an insect smaller than a fingernail but all Steve needs is dry ice, a fan and a net. 

"The fan draws them in," Steve said. "And then they go down into the net. When I collect it, I just close the top of the net off with this rubber band and send it over to the state lab to test them for West Nile virus."

Steve set the traps at the Raptor Rehabilitation Center for a reason.. Two weeks ago, one of their hawks died from a West Nile infection. Now two eagles are showing symptoms of the disease. 

"It's disturbing and it's heartbreaking," Marsha Dalan said. "I'll be honest, I cried my eyes out."

Steve has been working hard in the mosquito control industry for 30 years trying to keep the disease out of a human host. This is Steve's last official week on the job and he says he'll miss working with mosquito coworkers.

"It's bittersweet because I really have enjoyed this job," Steve said. "Every day I wake up and I'm eager to go control mosquitoes and find mosquitoes, look for mosquitoes and find new habitat. I just really enjoy mosquito control."

Steve says people in Yakima County shouldn't be overly concerned about West Nile virus. But if you are going out in a place that you know has mosquitoes, you should wear some type of repellent and a long sleeve shirt. 

     now that summer is over, experts say the mosquito population will get much smaller but more west nile cases could pop up.

     that's because it takes a few weeks for the virus to incubate before there are any symptoms.