This summer’s monsoon rains have created ample breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and Pinal County’s first confirmed human case of West Nile virus this summer was reported Aug. 24. The person is a Pinal County resident, but no further patient information was released.
The Pinal County Public Health District began finding mosquito samples that tested positive for the virus in mid-July, but specific locations have not been identified to avoid “promoting fear in some folks and complacency in others — the message is prevention across the board,” county spokesman James Daniels said.
Most people who are infected, usually through a mosquito bite, do not get sick, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Another 20% report fever, headaches or other pain, rash, vomiting or diarrhea or other milder symptoms, then recover.
About 1 in 150 patients, or 0.67%, develop nervous system disorders like meningitis or encephalitis, and approximately 10% of these victims could die. Symptoms of severe West Nile illness can include high fever, stiffness in the neck, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. The risk is greater for those over age 60 and those with chronic diseases or the immunocompromised.
Chris Reimus, assistant director of the county’s Environmental Health Division, said, “People are used to avoiding sunburns and wearing sunscreen; the same principles apply to mosquitoes.”
His advice includes:
- Keep swimming pools operational. If you must keep one out of use, make sure you remove standing water, keep it chlorinated or run the filter daily.
- Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. Check for items outside the home that collect water and get rid of them. Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets and move air conditioner drain hoses frequently.
- Change water in flower vases, birdbaths, planters, troughs and animal watering pans at least twice a week. Be sure to scrub them out when changing water.
- Take extra care to use insect repellent and protective clothing outside. When outdoors, use an EPA-registered and CDC-approved insect repellent.
- Keep well-fitting screens on both windows and doors.
For information on mosquito prevention or to file a mosquito-related complaint, visit pinal.gov/ehs or call 866-287-0209.