Health officials begin tracking West Nile virus



State and national health officials have begun the annual tracking and monitoring season of West Nile virus, and the state Department of Health launched an online dead bird reporting system for residents. Dead birds can signal that West Nile virus is circulating in a community.

The reporting system is available through the health department at Washington State Department of Health.

West Nile virus can cause illness in people and animals who receive a bite from an infected mosquito.

Most people bitten by an infected mosquito won’t get sick, according to the health department. Those with a weak immune system or who are at least 50 years old are more likely to develop serious illness.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture also urges horse owners to vaccinate their animals against West Nile virus.

Two people contravted West Nile virus in Washington last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Neither one died.

People without Internet access can report dead birds to the Clark County Public Health Department at 360-397-8000.