This weekend, Maricopa County residents will be honoring the brave men and women who have died for our freedoms. With so many people outdoors, it is important to protect our families and ourselves from mosquitoes. Maricopa County Environmental Services Department would like to remind people to take precautions against West Nile virus (WNV).
"Prevention is the best tool we have", said Tom Maglio, interim deputy director of the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department. "We need to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and also prevent mosquitoes from breeding", Maglio added.
The first nine positive mosquito samples of the season have been confirmed this month by Maricopa County Environmental Services department. The department conducts year-round surveillance of mosquitoes: collecting samples and running tests on samples collected from many locations throughout the Valley.
"The more we can control our mosquito population, the more we can control this virus," said John Townsend, Environmental Services Department Vector Control Division manager. "This is why it is very important that we all do our part and prevent mosquitoes from breeding in our yards and neighborhoods," said Townsend.
WNV is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Less than 1% of individuals who are bitten will be affected. Approximately 20 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will feel flu-like symptoms occurring three to 15 days after the mosquito bite. Symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands, and skin rash.
A small percentage of people who are infected with WNV will experience severe symptoms such as meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis or even death. Persons with weakened immune systems are more susceptible and those over 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease. If a person thinks he or she has WNV symptoms, he or she should consult their health care provider.
So far this year, Maricopa County Department of Public Health has not received laboratory-confirmation of human cases of West Nile virus infection. In 2004, Maricopa County led the nation’s counties with 355 people infected with West Nile virus; and 14 people died from the disease in Maricopa County.