Health director: West Nile virus may come to county by early next year
The West Nile virus, a potentially deadly virus spread by mosquitoes, could arrive in the area by the end of this year or early next year, the county's health director told Mohave County supervisors Monday.
Meanwhile, Patty Mead said, environmental health division crews set traps in two locations near Mohave County to track mosquitoes that could spread the virus to people from infected birds.
She also urged the public to help prevent the spread of the virus by reporting dead crows and other birds that might have been infected.
However, she explained the infection has not affected pigeons.
"We do have the type of mosquitoes in Mohave County that carry the virus," Mead said.
However, she was quick to point out during a presentation that lasted only 10 minutes that West Nile virus has not spread here yet.
The virus spread to Colorado and Wyoming last week, the Associated Press reported.
Eleven people nationwide have died so far.
Across the country, 251 human cases have been reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told The Associated Press.
Bites from infected mosquitoes can trigger encephalitis – a brain infection - Mead said.
Symptoms include fever, headaches, rashes and swollen lymph nodes.
Mead advised people who are bitten by mosquitoes not to seek immediate medical attention unless they display symptoms, adding people 50 and older are at greater risk of becoming infected.
She also urged people to take precautions such as eliminating standing water – a breeding ground for mosquitoes – from their property and avoiding going outside at night in mosquito-infested areas.
People can protect themselves by applying mosquito repellent but should not use repellent on children younger than 2 because the kids can touch their eyes, mouths or other organs with the repellent.
Mead said her office is trying to get out the word about West Nile virus by sending press releases.
She said abating the mosquitoes is the subject of discussion.
Responding to a question for Supervisor Buster Johnson, Mead said she has no information from the state on whether the mosquito count is high or low.
Johnson requested that the West Nile virus be placed on the agenda for the meeting.