First Cases of West Nile Virus Reported In El Paso, Here’s How To Stay Safe
Welp, first it was COVID, then came Monkey Pox, and now a familiar virus has made its way back to the borderland, West Nile Virus.
It’s typical for West Nile Virus cases to start popping up this time of the year due to monsoon moisture and the fact that mosquitos thrive with after-rain moisture and love that monsoon humidity as well.
This past week the City of El Paso Department of Public Health confirmed the first two cases of the West Nile Virus.
The patients include a man in his 60’sm from west El Paso with no underlying health conditions and a woman in her 80s from east El Paso with underlying conditions.
Back in 2021, El Paso reported 18 cases of West Nile Virus with two of those cases resulting in death.
Where Does West Nile Come From:
Simple answer: Mosquito bites.
According to health officials, a mosquito becomes infected when it bites an infected bird and the virus is then circulated in the mosquito's blood. Then that tiny little mosquito travels to your backyard while you’re trying to enjoy a nice summer night outside and bites you and you become infected with the virus.
Health officials don’t want you to stress too much over this, but still advise people to stay cautious when they plan on being outside during dusk and dawn.
Health experts say that 8 out of 10 people infected with the West Nile virus will not develop symptoms, however, 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop West Nile Fever, and about 1 out of 10 cases of severe illness do become fatal.
West Nile Virus Symptoms:
Symptoms of the West Nile Virus include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and swollen lymph glands.
The health department says those over 60 are at the highest risk for serious illness and people with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants are also at high risk.
How Can I Avoid West Nile Virus?
It’s simple! Practice the “Four D’s”
- DEET – Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus 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 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 regularly. Don’t forget to change your pet’s water bowl daily.
After the rain storms we’ve been receiving this past week that last one is key! If you notice your neighbor has standing water in their home and it’s beginning to attract mosquitos, you are asked to report that by calling (915) 212-6000.