Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Mon, July 06

Navajo Nation confirms first sign of West Nile
The public is reminded to exercise prevention measures

WINDOW ROCK--The Navajo Nation West Nile virus team is once again reminding the public to exercise caution and prevention, as there are now signs of the West Nile virus on the Navajo Nation.

Navajo Nation veterinarian, Scott Bender, said recent trappings of mosquitoes at several sites across the reservation uncovered four positive mosquito pools.

"We received reports back from the lab that four mosquito pools have been positive," said Dr. Bender. "This means that there is West Nile [virus] activity in these areas and this is the first sign this summer of the West Nile virus on the Navajo Nation."

Bender said the communities are in Window Rock, Chinle, and Ganado. "This doesn't mean West Nile is confined to these areas," he said. Additionally, he said there is one positive horse case. "The horse is also the first one this year and was confirmed by the lab on Friday."

Bender said the first pool was actually confirmed about two weeks ago.

"Two weeks after a horse case, technically speaking," Bender said, "a human case is often observed."

"The monsoon is starting and with the rains we don't want further complications," Bender said. "Before the West Nile season begins make sure all horses are vaccinated and receive their booster shoots, and exercise prevention measures," he added.

Individuals can "fight the bite" by using mosquito repellents and wearing long pants and shirts to prevent mosquito bites. One should clean home sites of any garbage or material that could hold water and allow mosquitoes to breed. Do not allow water to stand and stagnate in old tires, flowerpots, trash containers, swimming pools, bird baths, pet bowls, etc.

One should keep windows and doors closed if not screened. Doors and windows that are left open should have screens that fit tightly and have no holes.

Evening and night activities should be avoided to prevent exposure.

Children and elderly may need extra protection from mosquitoes. Horses should receive West Nile Virus vaccinations and booster shots every year.

Bender also urges the public to work with Chapter officials to eliminate sites where mosquitoes are breeding if any are in the area.

"West Nile is with us, and will be a problem every summer," he said.

West Nile virus can cause flu-like symptoms in humans, such as fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches," said Navajo Nation Epidemiologist Dr. Ben Muneta. "In most cases, people who are infected never become sick or have only very mild symptoms for a few days. However, the virus can, in rare cases, cause encephalitis and death. If someone feels as if they have the flu and are feeling sick, they should see their physician or health care provider."

Most mosquitoes do not carry the virus and most people bitten by a mosquito are not exposed to the virus. Less than one out of 150 people who are bitten by an infected mosquito get severely ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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