St. Louis Encephalitis virus found in mosquitoes caught in East El Paso

Local News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The city of El Paso is reminding residents to take precautions and protect themselves from mosquito bites after State officials identified a group of mosquitoes in El Paso that tested positive for the St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) virus in El Paso County.

According to the Department of Public Health, the virus was found in a group of mosquitoes collected from traps set up in the 79936 ZIP code, which is in East El Paso.

Officials will continue monitoring and testing mosquitoes for the SLE virus, which can cause severe illness in people of any age. However, people older than 60 years of age are at greater risk. Symptoms are also similar to West Nile and include:

  • High fever        
  • Headache
  • Neck Stiffness
  • Stupor
  • Disorientation
  • Numbness
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Vision Loss
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Paralysis

“Vulnerable populations for COVID-19 are some of the same individuals who could be affected greatly by diseases from a mosquito bite,” said Angela Mora, Director of Public Health. “We need to be vigilant and proactive in order to prevent mosquito breeding and mosquito bites. With this finding, it is important that people remove standing water around homes and protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

El Pasoans can also help “fight the bite” by following these prevention methods:

  • DEET – Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. 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 spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA- registered repellent will give extra protection. Don’t apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Rather, spray permethrin-containing products only on clothing.
  • DUSK & DAWN – Although mosquitoes 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. Use repellent and protective clothing during this time.
  • DRAIN – Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around and outside your home by empting standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths on a regular basis. You can also mosquito-proof your home by installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

Residents can report mosquito breeding and standing water by calling 311. For more information, visit EPHealth.com under the Be Climate Ready tab.

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