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Maricopa County records its first West Nile death of 2019

Posted at 11:48 AM, Jul 11, 2019

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Department of Public Health says they’ve recorded the first West Nile death of 2019 in Maricopa County.

So far this year, 27 human cases of the West Nile virus have been reported, including the one death.

The person that died was an older adult who had other existing health conditions, according to the Department of Health.

“This tragic death serves as an important reminder to all of us to do our part in protecting ourselves, our family and our neighborhoods from mosquito-borne diseases,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director of the Disease Control Division at Maricopa County Department of Public Health. “With monsoon season upon us, it’s likely we’ll see even more mosquito activity. Use insect repellent whenever you are outdoors, and get rid of water outside your home where mosquitoes can breed, like pet dishes, potted plants, even toys.”

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Those who are over 60 years old, have underlying medical conditions or depressed immune systems are at higher risk for the more severe form of West Nile virus, according to the Dept. of Health.

“Public Health is working very closely with healthcare providers, Maricopa County Environmental Services and state and federal partners to maintain a strong surveillance system both for humans and mosquitoes, and to put prevention strategies in place,” said Dr. Sunenshine.

Maricopa County released the following precautions when dealing with mosquitoes:

  • Use insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, or other EPA-registered repellents according to the product label on exposed skin and clothing
  • Drain and remove containers that hold water from around your home where mosquitoes can breed such as plastic covers, buckets, old tires, plant trays, pet bowls, toys, and boats
  • Scrape the sides of the dish or inside potted plants where mosquitoes lay their eggs
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens, no holes and remain closed
  • If it’s not too hot, wear lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs
  • Ensure that swimming pools and decorative water features are properly maintained

In 2018, Maricopa County had 24 West Nile virus human cases and six deaths.