19 additional human cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in Arizona

A teen-ager from Pinal County is the 57th case of West Nile virus in humans in Arizona, and public health officials are urging all residents to take precautions against the disease.

The girl was hospitalized but has been discharged and is recovering. She is the first case of West Nile virus in a human outside of Maricopa County this year.

In the last week, 19 additional human cases have been confirmed in Arizona, bringing the total to 57.

The age range of those afflicted is 3 months to 87 years, with a median age of 59.

All other human cases in Arizona have been reported in Maricopa County. Last week, county health officials announced the death of a woman in her 70s from West Nile virus, the state’s first fatality from the disease in 2004.

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Catherine Eden is urging residents to take precautions to protect themselves and their families over the long Fourth of July weekend.

“As this latest report shows, West Nile virus can affect all Arizonans, including the very young,” Eden said. “This is a totally preventable disease. By following a few simple precautions, Arizonans can avoid being bitten by the mosquitoes that carry West Nile.”

Because of the increased outdoor exposure this weekend, Eden is urging all residents to take special precautions against mosquito bites.

 “Be prepared,” the health director urged. “Bring insect repellent that contains DEET, wear protective clothing, and if you’re camping, please use your screened tent, camper, or automobile at night.”

 Tests of mosquito samples indicate the disease is spreading across the state. Of 750 samples tested at the Arizona State Health Laboratory, 88 have been positive for West Nile virus. While most have come from Maricopa County, other positive mosquito samples have originated in Yuma, Cochise, Graham and Pinal counties.

The state has established a web site, www.westnileaz.com, and a toll-free number, 1-800-314-9243, (Metro Phoenix: 602-364-4500), to provide additional information. West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans and animals through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.

The best way to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites, such as:

  • Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed. Check for items outside the home that collect water, such as cans, bottles, jars, buckets, old tires, drums and other containers. 
  • Change water in flower vases, birdbaths, planters and animal watering pans at least twice a week. 
  • Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets, and move air conditioner drain hoses frequently. 
  • Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes when going outside at night by using insect repellent. 
  • Wear lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs during dawn or dusk, or in areas where mosquitoes are active.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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