FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Coconino County Health Department Officials announced Sept. 1 that a bird found in west Flagstaff near Ft. Valley Road tested positive for West Nile virus. This is the first positive West Nile virus test in Coconino County this year. Fortunately, no human cases have been reported.
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.
The recent heavy rains and flooding have prompted the Coconino County Health Department (CCHD) to increase mosquito surveillance in the Schultz flood area and in areas around Flagstaff. CCHD staff is trapping and testing mosquitoes to monitor for West Nile virus and testing standing water for mosquito activity.
Mosquitoes are typically active at dusk and dawn, so it is advisable to stay indoors during these times. People are also advised to wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors and to use mosquito repellent.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, products containing these active ingredients typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection against mosquitoes:
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus* or PMD -the synthesized version of oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535
Be sure to follow the directions on the label of the repellent. Additional information on repellents is available at cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/Repellentupdates.htm.
Flagstaff residents are encouraged to remove standing water from areas around their homes when possible. The following suggestions may help reduce or eliminate standing water:
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 and spa 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.
Although the chance of becoming ill due to West Nile virus is small, persons over the age of 50 are at higher risk for serious illness. In mild cases of West Nile virus 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 1 percent of those infected develop the more severe illness. There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus other than supportive care, and there is no vaccine available for humans.
For more information or to report any concerns, call the Coconino County Health Department at (928) 679-8750 or toll free 1-877-679-7272.