Photo courtesy UTEP
The City of El Paso Department of Public Health has confirmed the first case of the West Nile Virus (WNV) in El Paso this year.
The male patient in his 50s, residing in the zip code 79902 was hospitalized as the virus had infected his nervous system. He has since recovered and currently at home.
In 2019, El Paso reported a total of 16 WNV cases, of which 2 resulted in death and 12 individuals were hospitalized.
“Human infection is the result of bites from infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which circulate the virus in their blood,” health officials shared. “Symptoms of West Nile include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, nausea, vomiting and swollen lymph glands.”
According to officials, eight out of 10 people infected with the WNV will not develop symptoms. However, 1 in 5 people who are infected develop West Nile fever, an illness that includes a fever and other symptoms such as body aches, joint pain, headache or a rash.
About 1 out of 150 infected people develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system and about 1 out of 10 cases or severe illness are fatal.
People over the age of 60 are at the highest risk of serious illness. Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants are also at high risk.
The best way to avoid exposure to mosquito-borne diseases is to practice the “four Ds”:
- DEET – Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone when you go outdoors. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions.
- DRESS – When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing and it’s recommended to also spray your clothes with repellent.
- DUSK and DAWN – Although mosquitoes associated with West Nile can be active throughout the day, residents should take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours (from dusk to dawn) or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
- DRAIN – Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around and outside your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis. Don’t forget to change your pet’s water bowl daily.
You can also mosquito-proof your home by installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. Residents can report standing water and mosquito breeding by calling (915) 212-6000 or dialing 311.