On Wednesday morning, officials with the City of El Paso Department of Public Health began urging residents to prevent mosquito breeding and avoid mosquito bites in order to avoid disease.
“Even though we are currently in the middle of a global pandemic with COVID-19, pathogens and disease do not take turns and we must face every threat as they come,” said Fernando Gonzalez, Lead Epidemiologist. “We should also recognize that the vulnerable populations for COVID-19 are some of the same people who could be affected greatly by a disease like West Nile virus.”
Last year El Paso saw 16 confirmed cases of West Nile virus and two residents succumbed to the disease.
This includes the elderly and those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants. They are at greater risk for developing serious illness from West Nile.
Other diseases that have yet to present local cases but threaten our community’s health include Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue. All can have devastating effects on those who are infected.
While weather forecasts do not see a high chance for rain, this week the community’s irrigation flooding from the Rio Grande has begun taking place in some areas, as a result public health officials are asking residents to use a larvicide that is commercially sold in either liquid, tablet, pellet, granule, or briquette form.
El Pasoans can also help ‘fight the bite’ by using these prevention methods:
- DEET – Use insect repellents that contain DEET when outdoors.
- DRESS – Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors.
- DUSK & DAWN – Although mosquitoes associated with Zika 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 – Drain standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, and birdbaths. After rains or lawn watering, residents are asked to “tip and toss” any standing water they find outside.
Residents can report mosquito breeding and standing water by calling 3-1-1.