The Washington State Department of Health this week confirmed the first death from West Nile virus in the state so far this year.
A Benton County woman in her 70s died of the virus, and was most likely exposed to the virus from infected mosquitos, according to a press release from the Department of Health (DOH). Benton County is in eastern Washington and contains the city of Richland. Washington State Public Health Laboratories ran tests to specifically identify West Nile virus as the cause of her illness, the release states.
A Benton County man in his 80s is currently hospitalized with the virus, and was also likely exposed to infected mosquitoes in Benton County, according to the release.
So far this year, West Nile virus has been found in seven counties in eastern Washington, the release states. The region continues to be a “hot spot” for the virus in Washington due to the combination of warm weather, standing water and vegetation providing ideal habitat for mosquitoes and birds carrying the virus.
While the virus is most often found in eastern Washington, the species of mosquito that transmits the virus is found throughout the state, according to the DOH. Regardless of where one lives or travels, precautions should be taken to avoid mosquito bites, according to the