A red-tailed hawk found in Prosser is Benton County's first bird of the season to test positive for West Nile virus, health officials said Thursday.

A red-tailed hawk found in Prosser is Benton County’s first bird of the season to test positive for West Nile virus, health officials said Thursday.

“We consider this another important warning sign that the virus is active in our area,” said Susan Shelton, environmental-health specialist for the Benton-Franklin Health District. “We are increasing our efforts to remind residents to take steps to avoid mosquito bites and to help control mosquito populations in our community. Preventing West Nile virus is a community effort.”

Most people who become infected with West Nile do not become sick. Some get mild, flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or rash.

In more severe cases, West Nile can cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. People with severe nausea or headaches should see a doctor immediately.

To reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile:

• Eliminate sources of standing water.

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

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

• Use mosquito repellents containing DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus and Picardin.

• Make sure screen doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly.