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Public Health Officials Report Fourth West Nile Virus Case in El Paso

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed its fourth case of the severe West Nile virus disease in the community.

A man is his late 60s with underlying medical conditions, who was also COVID-19 positive, was confirmed to have contracted the Central Nervous System West Nile Virus (WNV) disease and is recovering at home.

“It is extremely important for individuals to take proper precautions against mosquitoes, especially those who are most vulnerable,” said City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza. “Certain viruses that are transmitted by infected mosquitoes, such as the West Nile virus, can be extremely dangerous on individuals with pre-existing medical conditions as it can cause serious medical complications and in some cases death.”

Symptoms of West Nile infection include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, nausea, vomiting and swollen lymph glands. 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 of 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.
  • DRESS – When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing so it’s recommended to 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. For more information and tips visit EPHealth.com under the Emergency Preparedness Be Climate Ready tab.


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