West Nile virus found in Kennewick. Plus more infected mosquitoes in Richland

Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus have been found for the first time so far this year in Kennewick, with more also found in Richland.

The Benton County Mosquito Control District reported Thursday that a sample of mosquitoes captured in the Rancho Reata area of Kennewick had tested positive on Wednesday.

A new sample of mosquitoes collected near Jubilee Street in south Richland just northwest of Yoke’s Fresh Market also tested positive Wednesday, the district said.

In July, mosquitoes collected on Bateman Island in Richland and in West Richland were found to be infected with the virus.

Benton and Grant counties are the only counties in the state of Washington to report West Nile virus this summer. The virus has been found only in mosquitoes this year, with no reports of people, horses or birds infected.

Mosquito control inspect wa
The Benton County Mosquito Control District inspects standing water around the Tri-Citiesfor mosquito larvae. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

The risk of West Nile virus remains high for Tri-City-area residents until mosquitoes go away after the first hard frost.

The virus can be transmitted to people through a mosquito bite. Most people infected will have no symptoms, but an estimated one in five will develop symptoms that include fever, aches and sometimes a rash.

One in 150 people infected will develop a serious illness that can cause permanent damage to the central nervous system or be fatal.

Airplane spraying of mosquitoes

The Benton mosquito control district used a fogging truck to kill mosquitoes in the Rancho Reata area of Kennewick Wednesday night.

It planned to send up an airplane Thursday evening to spray the insecticide naled along Keene Road in Richland near Jubilee Street and several other areas in Richland, West Richland, Benton City and Mabton.

The Tri-City-area health and mosquito control districts recommend these steps to prevent infection:

If possible, stay indoors during prime mosquito biting times — dusk and dawn.

Wear pants, long-sleeve shirts and a hat when mosquitoes are present.

Use an EPA-approved insect repellent, which include ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, PMD, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus, and follow label directions.

Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Windows and doors without screens should be kept shut, especially at night.

Drain sources of outdoor standing water each week to prevent mosquitoes breeding in stagnant water in tires, buckets and other containers.

For water that is more difficult to drain, such as in water troughs for farm animals or decorative ponds, mosquito fish can control populations. Both Benton County Mosquito Control and Franklin County Mosquito Control will deliver the mosquito fish after an online form is submitted.

More information on steps residents can take to reduce mosquito populations and information on protection measures used by the Benton County Mosquito Control District is posted at mosquitocontrol.org.

Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.