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West Nile Virus Rising Quickly in US

What’s the status in Washington state?

National health officials said Wednesday that West Nile virus is rising at an alarming rateacross the country.

According to figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 1,118 cases in people reported so far in 2012 is the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported to the agency through this time of year since it was first detected in the United States in 1999.

Washington state has escaped so far, with no human cases reported this year, according to the Washington State Department of Health. But cases have been reported in Washington in the past, including one case in 2010 (and another acquired out of state), 38 in 2009 and three in 2008. Two counties—Franklin and Yakima in Eastern Washington—have each reported positive mosquito samples this year.

But the state Department of Health also says it doesn’t have the money to actively monitor the virus, which is likely to be widespread, in infected birds and mosquitoes:

Ongoing West Nile virus monitoring for infected dead birds and mosquitoes is limited to a few counties due to a lack of resources. West Nile virus activity may not be indicated in your county; however, the virus is likely to be widespread in our state.

So here are tips for how to prevent the infection, which is spread by mosquitoes. You can also help track West Nile by reporting dead birds. More resources are available at the Seattle/King County Public Health Department web pages here.

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