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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Sammy Berg, Environmental Health Specialist, 360-786-5581 X17051

West Nile Virus Positive Bird Found in Thurston County

OLYMPIA – Routine testing of a dead bird, collected in Thurston County earlier in September, has shown it carried the West Nile virus. Dr. Diana Yu, Thurston County Health Officer says, "This is definite proof that West Nile is in our area.  To avoid exposure from carrier mosquitoes, people can take some personal protection actions including wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants while outside and avoiding areas where mosquitoes are present if possible.  People should also use an appropriate insect repellent when contact with mosquitoes is unavoidable and limit outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are more active." 

Sammy Berg of the Thurston County Health Department says homeowners should repair and use window and door screens.  "Another good idea is to eliminate standing water near the home.  The most common type of mosquito that carries West Nile virus can grow in very small amounts of water, so it's a good idea to empty out bird baths and other standing water at least once a week.

Yu says most people who become infected with West Nile virus will show no symptoms at all.    However, the illness may result in fever, headache, tiredness, body aches and sometimes a rash. Although the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have been sick for several weeks. And in a small percentage of cases, those infected become severely ill. Three Washington residents have been infected by the virus so far this year, apparently acquiring the illness in eastern Washington . 

Horses have suffered the brunt of West Nile virus activity in Washington this year, with more than two dozen horses testing positive for the virus since August 1st, all of them in Eastern Washington . More than a third of the infected horses died or had to be humanely euthanized. West Nile virus vaccine is available to prevent horses from acquiring the illness.  Berg says horse owners should contact their veterinarian to take steps to protect their animals.

Those who want more information on West Nile virus and bird reporting can visit the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services web site at-


County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3