The New Mexico Department of Health suggests taking the following steps to protect yourself from West Nile Virus
- 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.
- When weather permits, wear protective clothing, such as loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks.
- The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing, or avoid outdoor activities during these times.
- 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.
FARMINGTON — A San Juan County woman has died of West Nile Virus, the New Mexico Department of Health announced Friday.
The 84-year-old woman is the second person to die of the virus in the state this year. An 83-year-old man from Curry County, which is near the New Mexico-Texas border, also died from the virus.
Two of the seven people who contracted the virus in New Mexico this year were from San Juan County. A 13-year-old San Juan County boy was hospitalized in late July because of the virus and recovered. He was the first case identified in the state.
Identities of those who contract the virus are not released.
"West Nile Virus infection can potentially lead to serious complications in anyone who gets infected," Retta Ward, the Department of Health secretary, said in a prepared statement. "That's especially true for people older than 60, so with September being one of the peak months for West Nile cases in New Mexico, we're asking everyone to be mindful of the risks and take the necessary precautions."
The majority of infections take place between June and September, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people are infected via the bites from infected mosquitos, which can pick up the virus when feeding on infected birds, according to the CDC.
Common symptoms of the virus include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. In rare cases, the virus can cause meningitis or encephalitis.
The local woman who died developed encephalitis, according to the health department.
Roberta Rogers, the marketing manager at San Juan Regional Medical Center, said the hospital treated a person for West Nile in July and another person in August.
She did not confirm if the two patients the hospital treated were the same two cases the health department confirmed.
"There are mosquito populations throughout the state and any one mosquito could potentially be infected with West Nile Virus," Dr. Paul Ettestad, the health department's public health veterinarian said in a prepared statement. "We urge everyone to follow the precautions listed to reduce their risk of becoming infected."Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.