West Nile Virus On The Rise

Maricopa County is only part of the way through the summer season, but the county has already surpassed last year’s number of West Nile virus cases.

According to the county’s public health section, 27 cases have been recorded. In 2018, there were 24 cases. According to a spokesman for the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department, the amount of West Nile virus positive mosquito traps has increased by more than 200. There were 335 positive samples this year, and there were 138 last year.

“We’ve identified thousands of problem areas in terms of mosquito breeding or potential breeding,” said Johnny Dilone from the environmental services agency. The Arizona mosquito season lasts from April through October, and the mosquitoes that carry the virus are usually more active in the morning and at dusk.

“We try to be ahead of the game,” said Dilone. He sets more than 800 mosquito traps a week and monitors problem areas. The department listens to public complaints to know where there are problem areas.

“If we learn from the public about other areas where they may be having a problem with adult mosquitoes, we go and monitor those areas, as well,” Dilone said.

Most people who are infected with West Nile don’t have symptoms or they only get a bit sick. However, there have been fatalities; 1 out of 150 people develop a severe illness and 1 out of 10 die from the virus.

Symptoms of the virus are: fever, head and body aches, weakness, nausea, joint pain, and swollen glands. The symptoms can last from a few days to a few weeks. The most dangerous symptoms are convulsions, paralysis, and coma. These are also the rarest symptoms. There isn’t a treatment that is specific for West Nile virus, and medical professional advise victims get rest, drink fluids, and take over-the-counter pain relievers.

To avoid mosquito bites, use insect repellent, wear light-colored clothing, keep your arms and legs covered, and dump standing water. “Anything that could collect water,” Dilone said. “Even something as small as the cap of a water bottle.”

To learn more how to protect yourself and your family from mosquito visit Maricopa County’s Bite the Fight site.

Click here for additional for tips on protection from mosquitos from Arizona Department of Health Services.