The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reports the state’s first two human cases of West Nile virus infection in 2018 have been confirmed in a 43-year-old man from San Juan County and a 71-year-old woman from Doña Ana County. Both cases required hospitalization.

Counties of New Mexico
New Mexico map/US Government

Mosquito populations remain on the rise after weeks of rain statewide. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, where hundreds of mosquitoes can emerge at once and it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito for a person to get sick.

Last year, there were 33 confirmed cases of West Nile virus in New Mexico, including one fatal case, and in 2016, there were six confirmed West Nile virus cases in New Mexico, with one reported death.

West Nile virus is regularly transmitted by mosquitoes around the state, and, in some cases, it can be fatal. People ages 50 and older are at higher risk of having serious consequences from infection with West Nile virus and should be especially careful to avoid mosquito bites.

Reduce your chances of getting mosquito bites and the diseases they can pass to you by doing the following:

  • Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside and be sure to 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.
  • Regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus breed in something as small as a bottle cap of stagnant water.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.

“West Nile virus can be a health concern anywhere in New Mexico until after the first hard frost in your area of the state,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “Until colder weather takes hold, take precautions against mosquito bites wherever mosquitoes are active.”

As of September 4, 2018, a total of 45 states and the District of Columbia have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes in 2018. Overall, 559 cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported to CDC. Of these, 312 (56%) were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and 247 (44%) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease.