9 On Your Side Health Watch
Monsoon rains usher in mosquitoes that could carry West Nile virus
Pinal County reports its first case of West Nile virus this year
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – With the monsoon rains come the monsoon mosquitoes – and the arrival of the deadly West Nile virus. Pinal County just reported its first human case, while Maricopa County is starting mosquito fogging.
Michael Acoba, the program manager for the epidemiology at The Pima County Health Department, said that there haven’t been any reported cases of the West Nile virus. However, Tucson isn’t in the clear.
“We do know that we have mosquitoes in Pima County that have mosquitoes in Pima County that have tested positive for West Nile virus so it’s out there,” Acoba said.
Pima County had 19 West Nile virus cases in 2011; none of them was fatal.
Most of the mosquitoes arrive on the tail of the monsoon (toward the end of August or the beginning of September). The standing water from the storms allows mosquitoes to breed. Pest experts say that’s why it’s smart to check around your home.
“So just doing a basic inspection around your home can be very helpful because a lot of times we might have a wheelbarrow or potting plants or even dishes at the bases of plans – where a little water allows mosquitoes to breed or collect,” said Eric Ruden, owner of Essential Pest Management.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a mild infection of the West Nile virus may involve: fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, skin rash (occasionally), swollen lymph glands (occasionally) and eye pain (occasionally).
A serious infection may involve: high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, disorientation, stupor or coma, tremors or muscle jerking, lack of coordination, convulsions and pain.
However, 80 percent of people do not don’t show any symptoms and only 20 percent actually get a mild infection. Statistically, only 1 in 150 people have a severe infection; most of them are usually elders or people with weaker immune systems.
One West-Nile-related death occurred in Maricopa County so far this year.
Experts offer some tips to avoid getting bitten by a mosquito:
- avoid activity at dusk and dawn (when more mosquitoes are out)
- wear clothing that covers your arms and legs
- use mosquito repellant
- make sure your windows and doors have tight-fitting screens
- use a fan to stop mosquitoes from entering your home if the doors are open
And the West Nile virus cannot be spread from person to person, but you can try to avoid it.
“After the rains, you go out the next day and you dump out all those water sources around your house. You’ll reduce the breeding population that can happen,” Ruden said.
Pima County is not planning to conduct any mosquito fogging. Jeff Terrell, a program manager for the Pima County Health Department, said in an email the county believes the best approach is to eliminate the source of mosquitoes – the standing water.
“We have been pretty successful in accomplishing this since we have not seen a need to fog,” Terrell wrote.