El Paso, TX — The City of El Paso Department of Public Health announced today that a second person has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV) infection. This second case involves an elderly man who resides within the 79907 zip code area. He is said to have underlying medical conditions and is now recovering at home. The first case this year was reported last week in a middle-aged man from the 79915 zip code area.
In addition to the threat of WNV, Environmental Service's mosquito traps have yielded a positive "hit" for the Saint Louis Encephalitis Virus (SLEV). The results were confirmed by the Department of State Health Services Laboratory. Though not uncommon in Texas, this sometimes-deadly virus was last found in mosquitoes in El Paso back in 2002.
Saint Louis Encephalitis is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most cases of SLEV disease have occurred in eastern and central states. Like WNV, most persons infected with SLEV have no apparent illness. Initial symptoms of those who become ill include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. Severe presentation of the disease (often involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) occurs more commonly in older adults.
“It is important that we prevent cases of Saint Louis Encephalitis because in rare cases, it can cause long-term disability or even death,” said Fernando Gonzalez, Lead Epidemiologist. “There is also no specific treatment for the disease itself, only for some of the symptoms.”
You can reduce your risk of being infected with SLEV or WNV by following the “four D’s”:
• DEET - Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions.
• DRESS - When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection. Don't apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Rather, spray permethrin-containing products only on clothing.
• DUSK and DAWN - Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
• DRAIN - Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around and outside your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis.
To report standing water or mosquito breeding, call Environmental Services at 3-1-1.
In effort to increase awareness about West Nile Virus, local civic and community organizations can schedule a presentation that will include background on the disease, prevention methods, as well as what people can look out for in regards to signs and symptoms of infection. Presentations can be scheduled electronically or via telephone at: