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New Mexican Dies Of West Nile Virus

New Mexican Dies Of West Nile Virus

Four Cases Of West Nile Virus Also Confirmed In Bernalillo County

A 61-year-old San Juan County man is New Mexico’s first known West Nile virus death of 2017. In addition, four Bernalillo County residents have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV) and have been hospitalized, bringing the total number of lab confirmed cases in the state this year to seven.

The four recent cases in Bernalillo County include a 65-year-old woman currently hospitalized as well as a 57-year-old man, a 60-year-old man, and a 75-year-old man, all of which have been treated and recently released from local hospitals.

“People ages 50 and older are at higher risk of having serious consequences from infection with West Nile virus and should be especially careful to avoid mosquito bites,” said New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher in a press release.

With continued rainfall around New Mexico, mosquito populations are expected to grow and potentially create more cases of West Nile virus in both people and horses. New Mexico typically sees most of its West Nile virus cases in August and September, but can see cases through October and until the first hard frost.

To reduce the chances of a mosquito bite that can transmit WNV, New Mexico residents should:

Use an EPA-approved insect repellent every time they go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Among approved repellents contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus/para-menthane-diol.

Regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus breed in stagnant water.

Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

Use air-conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.

WNV causes disease ranging from mild illness with fever to severe neuroinvasive disease that can affect the brain and other parts of a person’s nervous system.

Symptoms of the milder form of illness, West Nile fever, can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People with West Nile fever typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for weeks to months.

Symptoms of West Nile neuroinvasive disease can include those of West Nile fever plus neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Some of these symptoms can cause permanent damage.

There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. If people have symptoms and suspect West Nile virus infection, they should contact their healthcare provider.

In 2016, NMDOH identified six cases of WNV infection in people, all with neuroinvasive disease, and with one patient dying.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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