Avoid West Nile virus

Late last month, Coconino County Health officials reported that mosquito samples collected south of Flagstaff tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). This was the first positive WNV test this season. So far, no animal or human cases have been reported.

In 2007, there were two human cases, in Coconino County. In addition, one bird and three horses tested positive for the disease.

A mosquito-borne virus, WNV can cause symptoms ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to severe neurological symptoms. In most infected people, there are no symptoms at all. Although the chance of falling ill to WNV is small, it is still a disease that most wish to avoid.

The best way to prevent WNV is to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, so avoid being outside during these times. Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt outside and use mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes can be controlled by eliminating standing water where they lay their eggs.

The Coconino County Health Department offers additional advice to avoid WNV -

• Dispose of or turn upside down tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.

• Remove all discarded tires from your property. Used tires have become one of the most common mosquito breeding sites in the country.

• Drill holes in the bottoms of all recycling containers that are kept outdoors.

• Make sure roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.

• Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.

• Change the water in birdbaths, pet dishes and flowerpots at least twice per week.

• Clean vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds.

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.

• Drain water from pool covers.

• Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property

These preventive measures should be continued until cold weather returns and mosquito activity diminishes in the fall. For more information, contact the CCHD at (928) 679-8770 or visit

www.coconino.az.gov/health.

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