The Farmington Daily Times has reported that a local man, aged 61 years of age is dead as a result of contracting the West Nile virus. It is the first reported fatality in Arizona since the start of the year.
Other cases of the West Nile virus have been recorded, including four hospitalizations of Bernalillo County residents ages 57 to 75 years of age. Several other reports across the state have been logged, per the Department of Health.
West Nile virus is usually contracted when a mosquito carrying the virus bites a patient. Some of the most common signs of the West Nile virus include headaches, high temperature, and overall body ache – which occurs roughly 14 days after being infected.
Most individuals generally get better on their own, however, if you experience certain symptoms, such as a stiff neck, confusion, or muscle weakness, for example, this could be a sign of a severe reaction.
The Department of Health is urging all residents who suspect they may have the West Nile virus, to seek medical treatment right away. Seniors, in particular, may be more vulnerable to having a severe reaction due to having a weakened immune system.
Health officials are warning residents to remain vigilant as mosquito populations are expected to explode as a result of the monsoon season. Historically speaking, the virus is usually the highest between August and September.
Currently, no vaccinations are available against West Nile virus for humans. Horses, however, can be immunized and livestock owners are encouraged to take action. In the meantime, city officials are proactively using control measures such as spraying during the night and treating standing water to kill mosquito populations.
The city of Farmington has also published preventative tips for residents, which includes applying an EPA-approved insect repellent when heading outdoors. The repellant should contain certain ingredients for the maximum protection: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus. Another protective measure is to dress in long sleeves and pants before sunup or after sunset when mosquitoes are most active.
Residents are encouraged to drain any type of standing water, which commonly sits in trash cans, tires, and other household items.
To get more information regarding the West Nile virus and ways to protect yourself, go to nmhealth.org or call 505-827-0006.