Pinal County reports 1st case West Nile Virus

Pinal County Public Health officials have confirmed this year’s first human case of West Nile Virus. A female in her 30s from the northern Florence area tested positive. Her prognosis is good and she has so far reported only milder symptoms.

West Nile virus activity has been reported in portions of Maricopa and Pinal counties as evidenced by mosquito surveillance and documented human cases in the past several weeks. Countywide surveillance activities have detected mosquitoes carrying West Nile in Maricopa, San Tan Valley, Arizona City, Florence (Magic Ranch area) and Coolidge.

Seven human cases of West Nile have been identified statewide this year. Six cases occurred in Maricopa County residents and one in a Pinal County woman. Several other potential human cases are under investigation by state and local health officials. One West Nile-associated death occurred in Maricopa County so far this year.

Pinal County has confirmed only one case so far, but many more cases are likely occurring since most people who are exposed experience no symptoms or very mild symptoms and do not seek medical care. Physicians generally test for West Nile only if severe symptoms develop.

“West Nile virus is a significant threat to public health and should not be taken lightly. While the illness from West Nile virus is often times minor, some cases can become serious, resulting in permanent neurological damage and even death. I urge all Pinal County residents to take the simple steps needed to protect themselves, family and friends from West Nile virus,” said Tom Schryer, Director of Pinal County Public Health.

County health officials urge all county residents to “Fight the Bite” and follow these simple personal precautions to avoid mosquitoes and the diseases they may carry:

• Avoid outside activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

• If you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are active, wear lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs and use an insect repellent containing an EPA registered active ingredient such as DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always follow the directions on the label.

• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and remain closed. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes in them.

• Eliminate mosquito-breeding sites around the home by removing standing water in potted plants, tires, bird baths and other containers where water may collect.

• Ensure that swimming pools and decorative water features are properly maintained.

• Change water in flowerpots, birdbaths and pet watering bowls located outdoors at least twice per week.

Approximately, 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with West Nile will not show any symptoms at all.

Milder Symptoms in Some People. Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.

Serious Symptoms in a Few People. About one in 150 people infected with West Nile will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

Pinal County Environmental Health monitors nearly 150 mosquito traps around the county to identify areas where mosquitoes are carrying West Nile virus. When positive mosquitoes are found, fogging is conducted to decrease the potential for transmission to humans.

The County has a mosquito hotline and a webpage. If you would like information on mosquito prevention and control, please call: 866-287-0209, ext. 6200, or visit the West Nile virus webpage at: http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/Departments/EnvironmentalHealth/Pages/Home.aspx

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