POSTED: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 1:05pm
UPDATED: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 5:06pm
Santa Fe, NM — The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that a 13-year-old boy from San Juan County has been diagnosed with West Nile Virus infection. He was hospitalized for a short time and is now at home recovering. This is the first human case of West Nile Virus infection identified in New Mexico this year.
“Serious illness can occur in people of all ages. However, it’s important to remember that older adults, especially those over 60 years of age, are more susceptible to developing serious complications from West Nile Virus, and they need to be especially careful to avoid mosquito bites,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH.
Common West Nile Virus symptoms are fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. If someone has these symptoms, they should see their health care provider. In rare cases, West Nile Virus can infect the brain and cause meningitis or encephalitis that can have lasting effects.
“Because of the large amounts of rainfall New Mexico received recently, mosquito populations are increasing and we should expect West Nile Virus activity throughout the state,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the Department’s public health veterinarian. New Mexico typically sees most of its West Nile Virus cases in August and September.
To protect against West Nile Virus:
• Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using insect 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. 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, it is important to vaccinate your horses to protect them from West Nile Virus and Western Equine Encephalitis, which are both carried by mosquitoes.
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. In 2011, the New Mexico Department of Health identified 4 cases of West Nile Virus infection, all with serious disease of the central nervous system. In 2010, there were 25 cases of West Nile Virus infection identified in New Mexico, 21 with disease of the central nervous system and 1 fatality.
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 .