Olympia, WA - The Washington State Department of Health has confirmed the first death due to West Nile virus within the state. The Yakima County woman in her 70s died last month. Confirmatory tests to specifically identify West Nile virus as the cause of her infection were performed at the Washington State Public Health Laboratories and at the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Before her illness, the woman spent time in both Yakima County and Colorado. She could’ve been exposed to the virus in either area, both of which have virus-carrying mosquitoes.
In addition to this case, 31 other West Nile infection cases have been reported with exposure in Washington during 2009, bringing the total this year to 32 human cases. Among these cases, 25 have had severe disease, including encephalitis, meningitis, and/or paralysis. Seven cases had mild illnesses, mostly with symptoms of fever and headache.