A middle-aged man in Hermiston is suffering from West Nile virus, the first reported human case in Umatilla County this year.

The man is recovering at home, said Genni Lehnert, the administrator of Umatilla County Public Health Department.

More than 100 mosquito pools in west Umatilla County and Morrow County have tested positive for the virus, as well as two birds and a horse.

"It was only a matter of time before a human case presented itself," Lehnert said.

A person from the Irrigon area is suspected of having West Nile virus, but a Morrow County public health spokesperson said test results that would confirm the diagnosis have not been released.

Vector control workers are trying to reduce the number of mosquitos in the area, but Lehnert said the public should take extra caution in protecting themselves.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals through mosquitos, who pick it up from infected birds. About 80 percent of people who contract the virus will have no symptoms. Another 20 percent will suffer flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea and vomiting. Less than 1 percent develop severe illness with symptoms that include high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, tremors, convulsion, vision loss and paralysis. A very small number of people die from West Nile virus.

Lehnert urged Umatilla County residents to take these steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites and West Nile virus:

n Get rid of old tires and other containers where water can accumulate and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

n Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

n Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when in mosquito infested areas.

n Use mosquito repellents containing DEET, making sure to follow the directions on the container.

n Be sure screen doors and windows are in good repair.

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