West Nile virus found here

October 30, 2008

By Staff

NEW — 4:06 p.m. October 30, 2008

A dead crow found in Issaquah Oct. 16 has tested positive for the West Nile virus.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and other animals (although the disease is rare in dogs and cats). Mosquito season, however, is coming to an end, and the testing of dead birds will end in late October, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County.

“It can be a serious disease, so it is something to pay attention to,” said Hilary Karasz, spokeswoman for Public Health. “It can range from no symptoms whatsoever to something that can kill you.”

The Issaquah crow is the third infected bird found in King County this year, she said. Many more have been found east of the Cascades. Even horses are susceptible, with one infected animal found in King County this year and about 40 statewide. A vaccine for horses is available.

Heavy rains and colder temperatures will significantly reduce the number of mosquitoes here. The public, however, is still urged to minimize the chances that they will be bitten by a mosquito. Prevention tips can be found at www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices.

Karasz said the incidence of the disease has been increasing, and it may prove to be more common in 2009 than this year. In any case, persons who find dead birds are urged to report them, then dispose of the remains by sealing them in a plastic bag and placing them in the trash.

Such reports are tabulated by Public Health, which looks for clusters of bird mortality. These can indicate the presence of West Nile virus.

Most people who are infected with the West Nile virus will not get sick. In those who do become ill, symptoms usually begin between three and 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

About one in five infected persons will develop West Nile fever — a flu-like illness lasting a few days to several weeks — while about one in 150 infected people will have one of the more severe and potentially fatal forms of disease.

King County residents are asked to report dead birds year-round by calling Public Health at 206-205-4394.

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