West Nile Season Starting

July 09, 2013

As monsoon season starts in the Valley, so does the season for the West Nile Virus. Three cases of the mosquito-borne disease were reported in Maricopa County in June.

All three people contracted encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, the most serious form of West Nile. But they are all expected to survive.

Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine with Maricopa County Public Health said local residents should take this news as a reminder to be careful of the potentially deadly virus.

“It means that West Nile virus is out there, that people need to protect themselves from mosquitos,” Sunnenshine said. “They need to wear insect repellent, wear long clothes, avoid being outside at dusk and dawn, and then avoid standing water, so mosquitos can’t breed around their home.”

Sunenshine said the vast majority of West Nile cases are mild, but about 1 percent develop symptoms that range from headaches and stiff necks to cloudy thinking and other neurological issues. Maricopa County’s worst year for West Nile was 2004, with 355 confirmed cases and 14 deaths. 

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