EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The City of El Paso Department of Public Health has confirmed two cases of the Severe Central Nervous System West Nile Virus.
The patients include a man in his 60’s from west El Paso with no underlying health conditions and a woman in her 80 from east El Paso with underlying medical conditions. Both patients are currently in the hospital receiving treatment.
In 2021, El Paso reported 18 West Nile Virus cases. All 18 recorded cases resulted in hospitalization and 2 resulted in death.
Health officials say they virus comes from a mosquito bite. Mosquitos become infected when they bite infected birds. The virus is then circulated in their blood.
Symptoms of the West Nile Virus include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, nausea, vomiting and swollen lymph glands.
Health experts say 8 out of 10 people infected with the West Nile will not develop symptoms. However, 1 in 5 people who are infected develop West Nile fever. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system and about 1 out of 10 cases of severe illness are fatal.
The health department says those over 60 are at the highest risk for serious illness. The department says individuals with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants are also at high risk.
The City of El Paso Department of Public Health says practicing the “four D’s” is the best way to avoid exposure to mosquito-borne diseases. They include:
· DEET – Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone when you go outdoors. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions.
· DRESS – When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing so it’s recommended to spray your clothes with repellent.
· DUSK and DAWN – Although mosquitoes associated with West Nile can be active throughout the day, residents should take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours (from dusk to dawn) or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
· DRAIN – Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around and outside your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis. Don’t forget to change your pet’s water bowl daily.
To mosquito-proof your home officials suggest installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. Residents can report standing water and mosquito breeding by calling (915) 212-6000. For more information and tips visit EPHealth.com under the Emergency Preparedness Be Climate Ready tab.