West Nile Virus Tracking Resumes

<p>Protect Yourself</p>

Protect Yourself

West Nile virus tracking and monitoring season is underway and an updated online dead bird reporting system is available for state residents to use.

Dead birds can be the first sign that West Nile virus is circulating in a community.

“Tracking dead birds and West Nile virus gives people information they need to avoid getting sick,” said Maryanne Guichard, assistant secretary of Environmental Public Health. “Avoiding mosquito bites is the key to preventing West Nile virus.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just reported final data for the 2012 season, with 5,674 cases of West Nile virus disease in people in 48 states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii).

That total includes 286 deaths. Last year in Washington, two people acquired West Nile virus in-state and two more were likely exposed while traveling outside the state; none died.

West Nile virus can cause illness in people, birds, horses, and other mammals if bitten by an infected mosquito.

Dead bird monitoring can help provide information on areas where the virus may be active.

Washington residents may report dead birds online now through October.

Crows, ravens, jays, magpies, and hawks are particularly important to report because they often die from West Nile virus infection.

Most people bitten by an infected mosquito carrying West Nile virus won’t get sick.

Some may develop mild symptoms such as fever or headache that go away without treatment.

People with weak immune systems and those over 50 years old are more likely to develop serious illness, which may include meningitis or encephalitis.

Some neurological effects can be permanent. West Nile virus disease can be fatal.