Human West Nile Virus case confirmed

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in Coconino County this year has been diagnosed an individual from the Leupp area. Coconino County Health Department (CCHD) officials report that a blood specimen from the patient tested positive for the virus at the Arizona State Health Laboratory.

The individual became ill in September and was briefly hospitalized. He is recovering from the illness.

WNV was detected in four birds found in the Flagstaff area in September. Mosquitoes have tested positive in various locations in Northern Arizona but none in Coconino County this year.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause symptoms ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to severe neurological symptoms. However, in most infected people there are no symptoms at all. Although the chance of becoming ill due to WNV is small, persons over the age of 50 are at higher risk for serious illness. In mild cases of WNV disease, symptoms including sudden onset of fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, muscle pain, and rash, typically occur 3-14 days after the mosquito bite. More severe forms of the illness, including encephalitis and meningitis, are marked by weakness, high fever, stiff neck, headache, confusion, paralysis, and seizures. Very severe illness can be fatal, but less than 1percent of those infected develop the more severe illness. There is no specific treatment for WNV other than supportive care, and there is no vaccine available for humans.

The best way to prevent West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, so it is advisable to stay indoors during these times, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors, and use mosquito repellent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, products containing DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus* or PMD (synthesized version of oil of lemon eucalyptus) and IR3535 typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection.

Be sure to follow the directions on the label of the repellent. Additional information on repellents is available at http://cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/Repellentupdates.htm.

Mosquitoes can be controlled by eliminating standing water where they lay their eggs. The following suggestions may help reduce or eliminate standing water around a home.

• 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 bird baths, pet dishes and flower pots 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

Mosquito activity diminishes in the fall however; mosquitoes may still be present in areas even as temperatures drop and in warmer areas of the County.

For more information, call the CCHD at (928) 679-8750 or toll free 1-877-679-7272.

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