Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Sat, Jan. 18

Threat of West Nile virus continues in Mohave County

KINGMAN - Two deaths recently announced in Maricopa and Pinal counties from West Nile virus are evidence Mohave County residents should not let their guards down against mosquitoes.

"The monsoon may be over, but the risk for West Nile virus isn't," Susan Gerard, director of the Arizona Department of Health services, stated in a news release.

"For most people, the risk of serious illness from West Nile virus is low, but these unfortunate deaths remind us that we must continue to take precautions to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites."

One case of West Nile virus has been confirmed in the area. A Bullhead City area woman was diagnosed with the virus following the onset of symptoms in August, said Anna Scherzer, epidemiologist with the Mohave County Department of Public Health.

That victim has recovered sufficiently to be interviewed.

"She may have been exposed to West Nile in Mohave County," Scherzer said. "But she also could have been exposed elsewhere because she had a travel history prior to diagnosis of the illness."

There now have been three deaths linked to infection by West Nile virus in the state. The first fatality was confirmed from it in Pima County.

West Nile activity has been detected in 13 of Arizona's 15 counties, the news release stated.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include headache, fever, body aches, swollen glands and muscle weakness.

The elderly may experience more serious symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, neck stiffness and encephalitis (inflammation) of the brain.

The county Health Department has engaged in mosquito trapping throughout the county for several months and will continue those efforts through the end of October, when mosquito-breeding season is considered to be over.

Scherzer was asked about the West Nile threat level in lieu of the monsoon being over.

"It continues and that's one tricky thing," she said. "Elsewhere in the country it's cooling and mosquito numbers are declining. But here there are still lots of mosquitoes and we must keep the public alerted."

At least 45 people, including the three that died, have become ill this year from West Nile virus.

The state Department of Health Services recommends the following: apply insect repellent containing DEET when outdoors to lessen the risk of mosquito bites; ensure doors and windows in your home have tight-fitting screens and replace any with tears or holes in them; eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding.

West Nile virus information may be found on the state Web site at www.westnileaz.com or by calling toll-free to (800) 314-9243.

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