PHOENIX — Maricopa County’s Environmental Services Department plans to add more mosquito traps to its surveillance network after a record number of West Nile virus cases last year.
Health officials with Maricopa County reported a total of 1,484 human cases in 2021 — a number that broke the 2004 record of 355 cases.
WEST NILE CASES IN HUMANS:
2021: 1,484 cases
2020: 3 cases
2019: 155 cases
2004: 355 cases
John Townsend with Maricopa County’s Environmental Services said last year’s case counts can be called a perfect storm, “every year’s different, it’s based on environmental factors and so you never can really tell how it’s going to all play out until it actually starts playing out.”
The Maricopa County’s Environmental Services Department has hundreds of traps around the county to catch mosquitoes to test for viruses like West Nile. The department plans to add another 50-60 traps in growing parts of Maricopa County to help expand their surveillance network.
“After everything was over last year, that’s what we looked at this year and said we need to add traps in these areas so we have a weekly surveillance,” said Townsend.
The county’s vector control counts and tracks mosquitoes 50 weeks out of the year.
As of March 29, Townsend said they have had no positive cases of West Nile in 2022. However, with rain around the Valley this week, and warmer temperatures looming, mosquitoes can become more visible.
Experts are offering tips on ways to fight the bite when it comes to mosquitoes:
- You should use an EPA-registered insect repellent and make sure windows and doors that you may leave open have insect screens.
- Long-sleeved shirts and long pants help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
- Protect your home by eliminating standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
- A small amount of water in a flowerpot, bucket, upturned children’s toys or any other potential basin can become a mosquito breeding ground.
- Standing water that can’t be discarded can be treated with larvicides that usually are available at the hardware store.
Maricopa County health officials are also providing tips on how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding:
- Don't allow any outside water to stand for more than four days.
- Change water in animal watering dishes at least twice a week.
- Immediately remove any water that collects on pool covers.
- Clear leaves and twigs from eaves, troughs, storm and roof gutters.
You can report mosquito issues to Maricopa County by clicking here.
Health officials say for those having flu-like symptoms and/or neurological symptoms, they should seek healthcare and can ask their provider for a West Nile virus test.