(Kennewick, WA) -- The Benton-Franklin Health District says mosquitos collected by the Benton County Mosquito Control District have tested positive for West Nile Virus. This marks the first the discovery of the illness in Washington State for the year 2022. So far, no human cases have been reported, but BFHD says everyone should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

The Majority of Cases Are Not Severe

“Most cases of West Nile virus are mild,” said Dr. Amy Person, health officer for Benton and Franklin Counties. “However, serious illness and death are also possible. That is why we urge people to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and to contact their health care provider if they develop symptoms.”

Most Won't Notice the Virus

BFHD, in a press release, says most people infected with West Nile virus will not feel sick. About one in five people who are infected with the virus will develop a fever and other symptoms such as a headache or body aches. However, West Nile virus infection can be very serious, resulting in encephalitis, meningitis or other complications in about one out of 150 cases. In some cases, it can be fatal. The BFHD goes on to say that people with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or kidney disease, are at greater risk for serious illness. The BFHD adds that West Nile virus primarily causes infections in birds but can spread to people and other animals through mosquito bites. While a vaccine is available for horses, there is no current vaccine to prevent illness in humans.

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