Contact: Jeanene Fowler, Maricopa County Public Health: (602) 722-1806
Johnny Dilone, Maricopa County Environmental Services: 602-525-2423
Laura Oxley, ADHS: (602) 542-1094
Maricopa County Public Health Confirms
First 2011 Deaths from West Nile Virus
PHOENIX (September 2, 2011) - After reporting 23 cases of West Nile virus this season to date, Maricopa County Department of Public Health announced today that two of its cases have died from the disease. The victims were both elderly men in good health prior to infection, and they were residents from different parts of the Valley.
“These recent cases remind us that West Nile virus is still out there, and that West Nile virus infection can sometimes be deadly.” said Dr. Bob England, Director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
Last year, Maricopa County saw a concentration of cases in the East Valley. This year, West Nile virus cases are occurring throughout the Valley.
So far this year, more than 100 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus from all over the state, although the majority have been in Maricopa County. Health officials wish to remind everyone to take measures to avoid mosquito bites during the holiday weekend and beyond. “We are still in peak mosquito season and the risk for WNV infection will likely continue for the next two months,” said John Kolman, Director of Maricopa County Environmental Services Department.
West Nile virus can cause severe illness in people and horses, although only about 20% of those infected will develop flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, body aches, and muscle weakness. Some people, especially the elderly, may experience more severe symptoms including high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, and/or encephalitis or inflammation of brain, which can lead to paralysis or death.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Maricopa County Health officials urge all people to “Fight the Bite” and follow simple precautions to avoid mosquitoes and the diseases they may carry:
· Avoid outside activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
· Wear lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs and use an insect repellent if you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are active. Always follow the directions on the label.
· Make sure doors and windows have tight fitting screens and remain closed.
· Eliminate mosquito-breeding sites around the home by removing standing water in potted plants, tires, bird baths and other containers where water may collect.
· Ensure that swimming pools and decorative water features are properly maintained.
· Change water in flowerpots, birdbaths and pet watering bowls located outdoors at least twice per week.
West Nile virus was first found in Arizona in 2003. Since then, over 1,000 human cases have been reported. The worst year was 2004 with 391 human cases and 16 deaths. Last year, there were 166 human cases of West Nile in Arizona and 14 deaths.
Many local vector control programs around the state have been treating mosquito breeding habitats and some counties have been fogging to kill the specific mosquito that spreads West Nile virus. If you notice green pools in your neighborhood, talk to your neighbors or notify Maricopa County Environmental Services.
In Maricopa County, for more information on West Nile virus, to set-up an appointment to obtain mosquito eating fish at no cost to you, to report green pools, file any mosquito related complaint, register on the Fogging Notification System or for WNV materials or presentations for your group/organization, please call the West Nile Virus General Information and Help Line at (602) 506-0700, or visit http://www.maricopa.gov/wnv.