A recent article about West Nile virus stated that one person in Benton County was diagnosed with the virus in 2012. That would be me.
I am writing this letter to inform community members that I contracted the virus in my Kennewick backyard during the summer, and I was very ill for several months. I am concerned that other people were infected but did not know it.
I contacted the Health Department and the Tri-City Herald at the time, requesting they immediately educate the community that the threat is not somewhere far away, but right here in our own backyards. Neither responded to my request. Perhaps they did not want to sound an alarm, but I believe they should have!
I do want to thank the Benton County Mosquito Control District for its prompt response in coming to my home to spray.
This year, I encourage you to be vigilant about mosquitoes and educate yourself about the symptoms of West Nile virus, because the mosquitoes carrying the virus may be in your backyard too. Children, elders and people with low immune systems are particularly vulnerable.
MELISSA SOUZA, Kennewick
Editors note: Here is a link to one of the many articles published in the Herald about the West Nile virus and ways to protect yourself against it: tinyurl.com/TCH-Nile