Two cases from Curry County confirmed
The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that an 83-year-old man from Curry County has died from West Nile Virus infection. This is the first fatality due to West Nile Virus in New Mexico in 2013. The man had encephalitis, the more severe clinical form of the disease, and had been hospitalized. A second case, also from Curry County, was confirmed in a 66-year-old woman. She had the less severe West Nile fever, was not hospitalized, and is recovering.
“We extend our sympathy to this man’s family and friends,” said Secretary of Health Retta Ward, MPH. “We all need to avoid mosquito bites as best as possible, especially people older than 60, who are at most at risk for developing serious complications from the disease.”
Common West Nile Virus symptoms are fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. In rare cases, West Nile Virus can cause meningitis or encephalitis. If someone has these symptoms, they should see their health care provider. People older than 60 are at most risk for serious disease from West Nile Virus.
“Mosquito populations are high throughout the state due to the large amounts of rainfall; and everyone should assume that some of these mosquitoes are carrying West Nile Virus,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the Department’s public health veterinarian.
To protect yourself from West Nile:
• 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.
Also, vaccinate your horses to protect them from West Nile Virus and Western Equine Encephalitis, which is also carried by mosquitoes.
New Mexico’s first case of West Nile infection this year was in a 13-year-old boy from San Juan County who has recovered. In 2012, the New Mexico Department of Health identified 47 cases of West Nile Virus infection, including 1 fatality and 24 with serious disease of the central nervous system.
For more information about West Nile Virus, including fact sheets in English and Spanish, go to the Department of Health’s website at http://nmhealth.org/ERD/HealthData/westnile.shtml .