Fourth case from New Mexico in 2013
Santa Fe — The New Mexico Department of Health announced Thursday that a 60-year-old man from Bernalillo County has lab-confirmed West Nile virus infection. This is the first human case of West Nile virus infection from Bernalillo County and the fourth case in New Mexico this year. The man had encephalitis, the more severe clinical form of the disease, and was hospitalized.
“Most West Nile virus cases in New Mexico occur in August and September,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “I am encouraging everyone who is going to be outside any time during dusk or dawn, which are peak biting times for mosquitoes, to use repellant and wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when possible.”
The City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County operate a joint mosquito control program, aimed at reducing mosquito populations and protecting public health. Integrated pest management techniques are used to reduce mosquito breeding.
“In light of heavy rainfall over the past several weeks, and the recent detection of West Nile virus infected mosquitoes, we are making every effort to let the public know how to avoid the risk of contracting the virus and how to help reduce mosquitoes,” said Dr. Paul Smith, manager of the Urban Biology Division of the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department.
Residents throughout Bernalillo County are encouraged to report standing water or mosquito problems by calling 311.
“Mosquitoes infected with West Nile Virus will be around until there is a good hard frost in your area, so we urge people to continue to take precautions against mosquito bites, “said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the New Mexico Department of Health’s public health veterinarian.
Common West Nile Virus symptoms are fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. In rare cases, West Nile Virus can cause meningitis or encephalitis. If someone has these symptoms, they should see their health care provider. People older than 60 are at most risk for serious disease from West Nile Virus.
To protect yourself from West Nile:
• Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 for use on skin, and permethrin for use on clothing. Always follow label directions when using insect repellents.
• Eliminate water-holding containers where mosquitoes lay their eggs, such as old tires, and regularly change the water in birdbaths, wading pools and pet water bowls. Make sure rain barrels are tightly screened.
• Keep windows and doors closed if not screened. If you leave your house doors or windows open, make sure they have screens that fit tightly and have no holes.
Also, vaccinate your horses to protect them from West Nile Virus and Western Equine Encephalitis, which is also carried by mosquitoes.
New Mexico’s first case of West Nile infection this year was in a 13-year-old boy from San Juan County who has recovered. The other two cases include a fatal case in an 83-year-old man from Curry County and a 66-year-old woman from Curry County who recovered. In 2012, the New Mexico Department of Health identified 47 cases of West Nile Virus infection, including 1 fatality and 24 with serious disease of the central nervous system.
For more information about West Nile Virus, including fact sheets in English and Spanish, go to the Department of Health’s website at http://nmhealth.org/ERD/HealthData/westnile.shtml .