Maricopa County Records 1st West Nile Death Of 2017

By Stina Sieg
Published: Friday, July 21, 2017 - 6:17pm
Updated: Monday, July 24, 2017 - 11:43am
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Maricopa County has reported its first West Nile death of the season. The county has already seen 19 cases of the mosquito-borne virus this year.

Rebecca Sunenshine, the medical director with disease control at Maricopa County Public Health, said everyone should protect themselves from mosquitos. Ideally, that includes wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants outside, though knows that’s not always practical.

“If you choose not to, mosquito repellent is very effective, and you can put that on your skin and on your exposed clothing. DEET is one of the ones that works well,” she said. “And as long as you’re wearing that when you’re outdoors, you’re doing the best that you can to protect yourself against mosquito-borne diseases.”

Sunenshine said it’s also important to remove standing water from around your home. The person who died was an older adult — the group most at risk for serious complications from West Nile. But Sunenshine said even young, healthy people are susceptible to the disease.

“People of all ages have died from West Nile virus disease, so although individuals over 50 are at a higher risk, anybody can be affected by West Nile virus disease,” she said. “So it’s important for everyone to protect themselves against mosquitos.

Last year, five people died from the virus in Maricopa County.

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