SANTA FE-- The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) has identified five cases of West Nile Virus infections in residents of Bernalillo, Doña Ana, and Taos County. This year, no West Nile Virus deaths have been reported.

Recent rains have resulted in areas of standing water, which make excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes that spread the disease. Although there are no human vaccines for West Nile Virus, New Mexicans can take precautions to reduce their chances of contracting the disease.

To prevent bites and disease NMDOH recommends residents:

  • Regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters, saucers under potted plants, birdbaths, wading pools, and pet’s water bowls. Mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus breed in stagnant water and can do so in objects as small as a bottle cap.
  • Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.
  • Avoid outdoor activities during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Always apply an approved insect repellent every time they 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.

“West Nile virus can be a health concern anywhere in New Mexico,” said Department of Health Deputy Secretary Laura Parajón, M.D “Until colder weather takes hold, take precautions against mosquito bites wherever mosquitoes are active.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus can include fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Other, more serious symptoms include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis.

People 60 years and older and those with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease along with people who have had organ transplants are at higher risk of developing severe illness. If people have symptoms and suspect West Nile Virus infection, they should contact their healthcare provider.

For more information, including fact sheets in English and Spanish, about how to protect against West Nile virus, visit the West Nile Virus section of the NMDOH website.

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