Benton County woman confirmed as first 2016 West Nile death in Washington

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A field sample of mosquitoes that could carry West Nile Virus is seen. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Benton County woman in her 70s has been confirmed as the first West Nile virus death in Washington this year.

The state Department of Health said Wednesday the woman was most likely exposed to infected mosquitoes. A man in his 80s has also been hospitalized; he too is believed to have been infected by mosquitoes in Benton County.

The virus has been found in seven counties in eastern Washington this year, including a horse in Yakima County, a bird in Spokane County, and mosquito specimens from Adams, Franklin, Grant and Stevens counties.

Symptoms include headache, fever and body aches that go away without treatment. In rare cases West Nile virus can cause meningitis or encephalitis. The Health Department says risk for serious illness is highest among people over age 60 and those with certain medical conditions.

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