The most West Nile virus cases are in Arizona

February 25, 2012

Environment, Health

Dawn, dusk and the early evening are peak mosquito-biting times, but be careful when applying commercial insect repellants, as they can contain toxic insecticides.

The most intense West Nile virus (WNV) activity in the nation is in Arizona, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As of October 5, 2010, 620 cases of WNV human disease had been reported in the United States, with 114 in Arizona. New York is next with 103, followed by California with 60.

The CDC reports 23 deaths from WNV, seven of those in Arizona. These fatalities are primarily among those over age 60.

The most intense WNV activity in Arizona continues to be in the East Valley cities in Maricopa and Pinal counties. The majority of the nation’s human West Nile virus cases this year have been in Maricopa County. WNV is a reportable condition in Arizona by both physicians and laboratories. Typically, 80 percent of those infected with the virus show no symptoms; their immune systems successfully combat it. For others, it can be quite serious.

Dawn, dusk and the early evening are peak mosquito-biting times, but be careful when applying commercial insect repellants, as they can contain toxic insecticides. Long-sleeved shirts and pants are good protection, but the best action is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

Mosquitoes typically do not fly very far from where they hatch. They may travel the distance of two or three houses. Look for nearby breeding areas. Common ones are horse troughs, “green” swimming pools on abandoned properties, discarded tires, air-conditioning drain pipes, clogged rain gutters, standing water in flower pots and swimming pool covers, pet water bowls, birdbaths and containers that collect water from sprinklers and monsoon rains. It does not take much —  a thimble full of standing water can become a breeding area.

Maricopa County Environmental Services Department sprays for mosquitoes with airborne pesticides. To see when and where the fogging occurs, go to www.maricopa.gov/wnv/fogging.aspx.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2010.

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