MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ — Mosquitoes will be out in full force as the monsoon season continues. Maricopa County has now confirmed the first West Nile virus death of the season, following a record-breaking year in terms of the number of cases.
Barbara Puls, whose brother-in-law was impacted by the West Nile virus, says, "he just absolutely collapsed in the bathroom, just dead weight, was never able to move again."
Maricopa County saw its worst year of West Nile virus in 2021, with several deaths and more than 1,400 cases. Some of the people impacted then, still haven't fully recovered, like Puls' relative.
"Their prognosis for walking again is not very good because, like, his feet have sort of atrophied," says Puls.
With the first reported death for West Nile this year, we're told March through October is mosquito season, intensifying during the summer months.
"With the monsoon, with the rain, with the warm temperatures... we could have the ideal environment for mosquitoes to breed," Johnny Diloné of the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department.
Maricopa County does mosquito surveillance year-round by placing hundreds of traps all over the Valley to see if the surrounding area needs to be treated.
"The criteria would be: the trap either testing positive when we test the entire trap or the trap having 30 or more of the female mosquitoes that have the potential of carrying West Nile virus. Or, the trap having 300-plus mosquitoes, which are typically the floodwater mosquitoes," says Diloné.
According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of June 15, human infections of the virus have been reported in Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas this year. Non-human cases have been reported in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas.
Arizona Department of Health Services offers the following information about the signs and symptoms of West Nile:
"The majority of people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms or only mild illness. Most individuals who have symptoms will experience “flu-like” illness, including fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands, and muscle weakness. Symptoms usually last for a few days or weeks. In some cases, West Nile virus can cause more serious conditions including encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (an inflammation of the linings of the brain and spinal cord). Signs of more serious disease can include high fever, headache, confusion, disorientation, seizures, and coma. If you believe you may be infected with West Nile virus, please contact your healthcare provider."