Health Department confirms first case of West Nile virus in El Paso

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Texas Border Business

Residents are urged to remain vigilant during mosquito season

El Paso, Texas– The City of El Paso Department of Public Health announced today that it has confirmed the first local case of West Nile virus (WNV) in a middle-aged male who resides in the 79927 zip code.  The individual has underlying medical conditions and is currently hospitalized and recovering.  El Paso County had 16 WNV cases in 2013, with the first confirmed last August. Two WNV associated deaths occurred last year. El Paso last saw a confirmed case of WNV in November 2013.

“Historically for El Paso, August is the month in which first cases appear in our region.  Continued rain and warm weather is ideal for mosquito breeding,” said Fernando Gonzalez, Lead Epidemiologist.

In light of this recently confirmed case, Health Department officials are urging residents to take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease in El Paso.  The best way to avoid exposure to West Nile virus is to practice the “four Ds”:

Avoid Mosquito Bites

·        DEET –Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions.

·        DRESS –When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection. Don’t apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Rather, spray permethrin-containing products only on clothing.

·        DUSK and DAWN –Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.

·        DRAIN –Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around and outside your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

·        Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Use your air conditioning, if you have it.

What Are the Symptoms of WNV?

·        No symptoms in most people.Most people (70-80%) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.

·        Febrile illness in some people. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

·        Severe symptoms in a few people.Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues).

For more information on West Nile virus, please visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/wnv_factSheet.htm.

The Mission of the Department of Public Health is to provide research and evaluation, prevention, intervention, and mobilization services to the people of El Paso so they can be healthy, productive, safe and secure. For more information on the programs and services offered by the Department of Public Health, visit EPHealth.com or dial 2-1-1.