OLYMPIA — Two sets of mosquito samples tested positive in Yakima County for West Nile virus earlier this week, a month earlier than in previous years.
Officials with the Washington state Department of Health said the positive tests are a sign the virus will be active in Washington for the upcoming mosquito season.
In order to prevent the West Nile virus, people who spend time outdoors should use bug repellent with DEET, picaridin or some sort of oil of lemon eucalyptus; all providing long-lasting protection to mosquito bites. Officials encouraged homeowners to get rid of standing or stagnant water around the home, and to change water in birdbaths, wading pools and other areas mosquitoes could breed.
“Avoiding mosquito bites is the key to preventing infection and possible illness,” Maryanne Guichard, the assistant secretary of Environmental Public Health, said. “Many people will be outdoors now with he warmer weather, so it’s important to take steps to prevent West Nile virus.”
Washington residents are encouraged to use the Department of Health’s online reporting system to report dead birds. Often, dead birds are the first sign that West Nile virus is circulating in a community.
Four individuals tested positive for West Nile virus in 2012 in Washington, though two had potentially contracted the virus elsewhere.