Officials with the City of El Paso Department of Public Health have reported a jump in human West Nile virus cases in light of recent rains and high temperatures. They have confirmed six additional cases locally involving three people who all live in the Mission Valley. In addition, the other new cases include an elderly man who lives in east El Paso, a young man who resides in the central part of town, and a middle aged man who lives in the Upper Valley.
This brings the case tally in the city to seven.
“Our epidemiology team continues to work hard to identify cases of West Nile in our community,” said Fernando Gonzalez, Lead Epidemiologist. “We hope that sharing this information with the public will help raise awareness of the importance of mosquito prevention, and that people will do everything they can to avoid getting bitten.”
The best way to avoid exposure to mosquito-borne diseases is to practice the “four Ds”:
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; 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 and DAWN – Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times and 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.
As of Wednesday, the state of Texas has reported 27 WNV cases, including 21 that were classified as neuroinvasive.
One case in 2015 has resulted in death. In 2014, there were 379 human cases of West Nile illness in Texas, including six deaths.
Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today