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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

Spokane County reports first case of West Nile since 2009

A Spokane County man in his 40s was hospitalized and released earlier this month after contracting West Nile virus from an infected mosquito in the area.

The case is the first reported in a human in Spokane County since 2009.

Two cases of West Nile virus infections in humans have been reported this year, both in Benton County, including a woman in her 80s who died of complications from the virus, according to the Washington state Department of Health.

Last year, Washington reported 24 cases of West Nile virus, 12 of which were in Benton County, including a man in his 80s who died. The virus has been detected in nine counties in Washington this year, all on the eastern side of the state, records show. Officials say Eastern Washington is ripe for cases of West Nile because of the combination of warm weather, standing water and vegetation.

The virus is spread by mosquitoes from infected birds to mammals, mostly humans and horses. Health officials estimate 80 percent of people don’t develop symptoms, and less than 1 percent of people experience any serious complications.

Symptoms include a fever, stiff neck, general malaise, muscle and joint aches, sometimes a rash, and generally not feeling well, said Anna Halloran, a health district epidemiologist. There is no vaccine for West Nile in humans, even though there is one for horses.

Health officials recommend reducing natural mosquito breeding sites to slow the spread of West Nile, including draining stagnant water. Halloran also recommends dressing in long sleeves when going out, particularly when pests are active, and using properly fitting window and door screens when sleeping.

Four horses have also been infected with the virus in Spokane County, two of which died, the health district reported. Halloran said about two out of three horses infected with West Nile survive, though she urges owners to vaccinate their horses against the virus.

The Panhandle Health District also reported early this month two dead horses that tested positive for West Nile. The district has not had a human case of West Nile reported since 2007.

Spokane County does not have a mosquito control district like other counties in the area. However, officials recommend concerned parties check out the health district’s website for information on controlling insect-related diseases and viruses.

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