Tri-Cities sees first human case of West Nile Virus

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- A South Richland man has West Nile.

It's the first positive test for a person living in the Tri-Cities in five years. The discovery has caused mosquito control to rework its strategy for tackling the bugs.

Benton County Mosquito Control has their hands full, collecting, counting, and testing the potential carriers of West Nile Virus.

The Benton Franklin Health District got their first confirmed case of West Nile in a person. It's a middle-aged man who lives in south Richland.

It's not clear where he got bit, but the mosquitoes testing positive for the virus have only been found in West Richland and Prosser.

"Now that we have a case in Richland, that shows us that we're going to have to broaden that scope and that the mosquitoes carrying West Nile could have spread out."

Mosquito Control Director Angela Beehler says the numbers of mosquitoes in problem areas has dropped. A sign that the season is winding down. But now with this new case, pest control specialists are doubling their efforts to contain mosquito hot-spots.

Workers with Mosquito Control have to meticulously comb through, count, and test thousands of bugs that they collect the night before to make sure none of the mosquitoes carry the potentially deadly virus.

Symptoms of West Nile take about three weeks to set in. The health department says we could see more cases in people pop up in the next two weeks. Weather will play a big part.

"If we continue to have warmer temperatures, then the mosquitoes that can transmit the virus will thrive in those temperatures," Beehler added.

There's no vaccination for West Nile, so taking steps to avoid it is key.
Get rid of standing water around your house. Don't over water plants.
If you have an old or abandoned swimming pool that you think needs to be treated, mosquito control will come to your house for free.

Hoping to stop the spread of West Nile.

Health officials say this mosquito season is expected to last into October, or until the first hard freeze. 80 percent of people with West Nile will not show symptoms.

One in 150 people affected could suffer serious neurological symptoms.