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West Nile virus found in King County

A dead crow found in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood on Aug. 24 was found to be carrying the West Nile virus. This is the first West Nile positive finding in King County in 2009, and confirms that people are at risk for contracting West Nile virus this year in King County.

“There are still mosquitoes outdoors during the cooler fall months, so protect yourself against mosquito bites,” said Dr. Sharon Hopkins, Public Health veterinarian for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “The risk of contracting West Nile virus is not yet over for this season.”

The bird found Aug. 24 means that King County’s first positive surveillance findings came several weeks earlier in the season than last year, when Public Health found a positive bird on Sept. 15. This means that there is a longer period this year with risk of West Nile virus transmission to humans.

While testing of dead birds will end in mid-October, King County residents are asked to report dead birds year-round by calling Public Health at (206) 205-4394 or by reporting online at www.kingcounty.gov/health/westnile.

Public Health’s Zoonotic Disease Program collected the bird through its surveillance program for testing at the Washington Animal Diagnostic Disease Laboratory in Pullman.

A Klickitat County resident was confirmed with the West Nile virus this year. Fifteen birds, 32 horses and 326 positive mosquito pools have also been found statewide.

West Nile virus is spread to people by mosquitoes that have bitten infected birds. West Nile can cause serious illness, especially in older adults. While rains and colder temperatures may have reduced the number of mosquitoes, the public is still urged to minimize the chances that they will be bitten by a mosquito. Prevention tips may be found at www.kingcounty.gov/health/westnil.

• Report a dead crow: (206) 205-4394 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/ehs/westnile/deadbird.

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