First West Nile Virus case of 2022 found in San Juan County

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A San Juan County resident was the first human patient this year with a verified case of the West Nile virus, the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) announced Sept. 12.

The patient was hospitalized and is recovering, NMDOH said in a news release.

West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus and sometimes the infection can be fatal.

“There were 33 people diagnosed with West Nile virus in New Mexico in 2021 - five of them died – compared to eight patients of West Nile virus in New Mexico in 2020 with one death,” the news release said.

Health officials said cases have been found in New Mexico since the virus arrived here in 2002. People 50 and over and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of falling seriously ill from the virus.

More:San Juan County's COVID cases fall 34.4%; New Mexico cases plummet 40.5%

Officials say the common culprits – warm weather and standing water – bring about mosquito population booms.

“Mosquito populations increase when temperatures are warm and standing water is accessible,” the release noted. “Female mosquitoes can lay hundreds of eggs in even a small amount of water. Mosquitoes can carry diseases, including West Nile virus, that can make you and your family sick. It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to make a person sick.”

The health department recommended the following precautions:• Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Among the EPA-approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus/para-menthane-diol.• Regularly drain standing water and scrub containers, including empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters, saucers under potted plants, birdbaths, wading pools, and pets’ water bowls. Mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus breed in stagnant water.• Make sure rain barrels are tightly screened.• Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.• Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.

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Health officials urge anyone who thinks they may have contracted the virus to see a health professional.

“Symptoms of the milder form of illness, West Nile fever, can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue,” the news release stated. “People with West Nile fever typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for weeks to months. Symptoms of West Nile neuroinvasive disease can include those of West Nile fever plus neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.”

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