The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is reminding residents that the mosquito season is not over, and while the prevention of West Nile and the Zika Virus is still stressed, another potentially dangerous, mosquito-borne virus has been identified locally.
“The warm weather we experience in El Paso is a double-edged sword,” said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director. “It’s great for those of us who enjoy spending time outdoors, but bad in the sense that we never get cold enough to completely kill off our mosquito population.”
Workers with the Environmental Services Department (ESD) have found mosquitos in the Mission Valley area that have tested positive for Saint Louis Encephalitis.
The virus is most common in eastern and central states; however, positive mosquito pools have been identified in El Paso in recent years. The disease, which is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, does not usually result in noticeable illness but severe cases can lead to inflammation of the brain.
Initial symptoms of those who become ill include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. Severe presentation of the disease, including coma, convulsions or paralysis, occurs more commonly in older adults.
The DPH continues to work closely with the ESD Vector Control Program to prevent mosquito breeding in El Paso; however, in light of this discovery, health officials are urging residents to continue to practice personal mosquito bite prevention.
The most effective way to avoid mosquito-borne illnesses, is to prevent mosquito bites and use the 4 D’s:
- DEET – Use insect repellents that contain DEET when outdoors.
- DRESS – Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors.
- DUSK and 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.
Residents can also mosquito-proof their home by repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.