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FIRST 2012 HUMAN CASE OF WEST NILE VIRUS CONFIRMED

Contact: Jeanene Fowler, Public Health: 602-722-1806 (cell)
Johnny Diloné, Environmental Services: 602-525-2423 (cell)


                                                                                                         

With Heat and Monsoon Comes Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus

Maricopa County Confirms First Human Case of West Nile Virus for 2012

Phoenix (June 27, 2012) – With monsoon and heat season in full swing so now is Maricopa County’s 2012 West Nile Virus season. Today, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health and Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed that a woman in her 30’s is the state’s first lab confirmed human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) this season. The woman, who suffered from the meningitis form of the illness, is now recovering at home.

“As we know, West Nile is endemic in our environment and the cases that are usually ‘counted’ are frequently the most serious forms of the disease; encephalitis and meningitis, said Dr. Bob England, director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health. 

“Last year about 70 percent of our reported cases were considered neuroinvasive disease, the encephalitis and meningitis versions of West Nile, which are very serious and almost always require hospitalization. West Nile fever or non-neuroinvasive illness is almost always highly underreported because most of the people that do get the virus feel under the weather for a day or two but never require a doctor’s visit and therefore are never tested,” said England.   

“The bottom line is that we are all at risk and need to protect ourselves from those pesky critters.”

In 2011, Maricopa County experienced a mild West Nile virus season with 45 lab confirmed cases. In 2010, Maricopa County recorded its second worst West Nile virus season with 115 lab confirmed cases. (The worst season was in 2004 with 355 confirmed cases.)                         

Public health officials recommend applying insect repellent following label instructions (CDC recommends repellant containing DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD, or IR3535), wearing long clothing, and avoiding outdoor activity after dusk and before dawn. 

Also, residents should make a special effort to mosquito-proof their home by taking the following precautions:

  • Eliminate mosquito-breeding sites around your property. Drain standing water in potted plants, tires and other containers.
  • Install or repair window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of the home.
  • Keep fountains, animal troughs and swimming pools properly operating and free from debris.

“It is important that we all do our part in eliminating mosquito breeding sites in our homes and neighborhoods,” said John Kolman, Maricopa County Environmental Services department director.  The Environmental Services department conducts a year round mosquito surveillance program and so far this year has detected positive mosquito samples and one WNV positive dead bird.   

WNV is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Approximately 20 percent of people infected with the virus will feel flu-like symptoms occurring three to 15 days after the mosquito bite.

Symptoms may include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands, and skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. A small percentage of people who are infected with WNV will experience severe symptoms, such as meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis, and even death. People over the age of 50 are generally at a higher risk for severe symptoms. If a person thinks he or she has WNV symptoms, he or she should consult their health care provider. 

Health officials say Valley residents should be aware that although the majority of people who become infected with the virus will show no symptoms at all, for a small percentage of people it can be serious or even fatal.

For more information on West Nile virus, public health assistance, to report green pools or file any mosquito related complaint, and for WNV materials or presentations for your group/organization, call (602) 506-0700 or visit www.maricopa.gov/wnv.

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