KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON - Today, Public Health Seattle & King County is announcing that two more birds with West Nile virus have been detected in King County. West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes, and although the mosquito season is winding down, people should continue to prevent mosquito bites and remove mosquito habitat from their property.
There have now been a total of five dead birds that have tested positive for West Nile virus in King County. Statewide, 12 birds, 5 horses and 3 humans have tested positive for West Nile virus.
In the two new bird cases, one of the dead birds, a crow, was found in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Seattle, and the second bird, a hawk, was found in the Somerset neighborhood in Bellevue. The birds were picked up October 12 and 17.
Residents throughout the county are at potential risk for West Nile virus, not just residents of where the birds were found. There have been no human cases acquired in King County.
Public Health encourages people to continue to reduce mosquito breeding habitat near their homes and to wear appropriate clothing and mosquito repellent when mosquitoes are biting.
- When mosquitoes are out, often at dawn and dusk, wear long sleeve shirts and long pants.
- Repair ripped windows and door screens and make sure they fit tight.
- Consider using an insect repellent. Repellents containing the chemical N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) are known to be very effective. It is important to read the label and follow the instructions on the label carefully.
- In 2005, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added two new types of repellent to its recommended list of products known to be both safe and effective. Products containing picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are available in various formulations at drugstores and pharmacies.
- To reduce mosquito breeding habitat, get rid of standing water in clogged gutters, barrels, buckets and wheelbarrows, plastic tarps, toys, cans or plant saucers, tires, birdbaths, bottles, and wading pools.
West Nile virus is primarily a bird disease. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on infected birds and can then pass the virus to people, horses or other animals when they bite. Most people who become infected do not experience any symptoms and are not ill. About 20% of people infected will develop mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally swollen lymph glands or a rash. In approximately 1 in 150 cases, West Nile virus can cause a severe infection of the brain and central nervous system. There is no vaccine for West Nile virus in humans. Public Health is advising health care providers throughout the county how to detect possible West Nile cases in humans, and how to get patients with possible West Nile virus infection tested.
Public Health's West Nile surveillance system includes testing dead crows, which are usually the first sign that West Nile virus is active in an area. Certain other birds can also die from West Nile virus infection and may be selected for testing. These include jays, ravens, and raptors like hawks and owls. Over 2,000 crows and other birds have been reported to Public Health to date in 2006, and 77 have been tested. Public Health will continue to test dead birds for West Nile virus into November. Residents are encouraged to report dead birds throughout the year.
Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.