EH&S Safety News

West Nile Virus Update: August 2013
by Charles Easterberg, Public Health Advisor

This spring has been somewhat warmer than many, and sampling indicates that mosquito life cycles on the West Side are progressing rapidly. The current hot weather has produced the season’s first big hatch of adult mosquitoes.

One human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been confirmed in Washington so far this year (acquired out-of-state), but six WNV-positive mosquito pools have been found in Benton and Yakima counties, a month earlier than last year.

Due to budget constraints, testing of crows, jays, and other species will not be up to the level of previous years, when dead birds, mosquito pools, and sentinel chicken flocks were routinely checked for WNV. But there is funding for limited testing this summer. Historically, a viral presence in these groups meant human cases would appear soon, so please report all dead birds on campus to EH&S (206-543-7209 or 206-616-1623) and the State Health Department Report a Dead Bird website if off campus.

The best advice is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. The odds of an infected mosquito biting a person are unknown, and the West Side mosquito season can last well into October until an overnight frost. Protect yourself and avoid being bitten by taking the following precautions:

  • Reduce the ambient urban mosquito population by eliminating standing water mosquito breeding sites around your residence. This helps protect everybody, including birds. Tip over, recycle, puncture, or dispose of plastic or other buckets and containers, jars, flower pot bases, tires, bird baths, or any vessel that holds water. These provide mosquitoes egg-laying places; in hot weather it takes only a week before eggs turn into adults and fly away to look for a blood meal, hopefully not you!
  • Eliminate mosquitoes from your house and sleeping places. 
  • Avoid the outdoors at times when mosquitoes are hungry and biting (usually around dusk and dawn).
  • Use mosquito repellent and wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors.
  • When you find dead crows, jays, or other birds, if they are fresh and clearly not road kills or window hits, report them to the State Health Department on its website.

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