SANTA FE (KSMX)- The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reported the first human case of West Nile virus infection in New Mexico for 2020.
The patient is a San Juan County man in his 50s. He was diagnosed with the neuroinvasive form of the disease, which has required hospitalization, and he is now recovering, per the press release.
West Nile virus is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can sometimes be fatal. New Mexico has had cases of West Nile virus infection every year since the virus was introduced to New Mexico in 2003.
The Department of Health encourages New Mexicans to take precautions to protect themselves against West Nile virus. Last year, there were 40 cases in New Mexico, including four fatal cases, and in 2018 there were seven confirmed West Nile virus cases in the state with one reported death.
To reduce the chance of a mosquito bite that can transmit West Nile virus, NMDOH recommends that people should:
- 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.
There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. People 50 years of age and older and those with other health issues are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill or dying when they become infected with the virus.