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Second Bernalillo County West Nile Virus Case of 2013 Reported

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For more about on West Nile virus and the Urban Biology Division's mosquito surveillance program:

The City of Albuquerque Urban Biology Division has received confirmation of a second human case of West Nile virus in Bernalillo County for the 2013 season. A 76-year old woman has been hospitalized with the severe neuroinvasive form of the disease, but is she is expected to recover.

The Albuquerque Environmental Health Department's Urban Biology Division operates a joint West Nile virus surveillance and mosquito control program with the Bernalillo County Office of Health and Social Services. Program staff are making an effort to determine possible sites where the patient may have encountered infected mosquitoes, and will concentrate additional mosquito surveillance and control efforts on suspected problem areas.

"It is important for the community of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County to remember that West Nile virus is still a real public health threat," said Dr. Mark DiMenna, Deputy Director of the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department. "We encourage everyone to continue to follow preventative measures aimed at reducing mosquito exposure in order to ensure their safety."

West Nile Transmission

West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Generally, West Nile virus infection is mild, with symptoms that include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. In rare cases, the illness can develop into the more severe neuroinvasive infection, as seen in this case. This can lead to meningitis or encephalitis, where inflammation of the brain is involved.

"We are currently in the peak season for West Nile virus cases, from approximately mid-August to late September, and the recent heavy rains and flooding have certainly made the mosquito burden even higher," said Dr. Paul Smith, Urban Biology Division Manager. "If people are noticing a lot of mosquito activity or standing water, we encourage them to report it to 311."

Reduce Exposure

Risk of contracting West Nile virus can be reduced by avoiding exposure to mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellant that is shown to be effective; apply to clothing and exposed skin according to the directions on the label. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend products containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 on skin and permethrin on clothing
  • Avoid outdoor activity during peak times of mosquito activity, mainly around dusk and dawn
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that protects the skin when mosquitoes are present, inlcuding long sleeves, long pants and socks
  • Ensure that windows and doors are kept closed, and that screening is intact, patching holes that would allow mosquitoes to enter the home
  • Whenever possible, eliminate standing water that can serve as a breeding place for mosquitoes; drain containers that hold water and turn them upside down; change out water in pools, watering bowls/troughs and birdbaths regularly
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