Ariz. health officials confirm year's first West Nile case

Posted: Updated:
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Arizona health officials have confirmed the state's first human case of West Nile Virus this year.

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health and Arizona Department of Health Services said lab tests show a woman in her 30s has the virus. She suffered from the meningitis form of the illness and is now recovering at home.

The West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can infect people and animals.

Approximately 20 percent of people infected with the virus will feel flu-like symptoms occurring three to 15 days after the mosquito bite.

Symptoms may include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands, and skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. A small percentage of people who are infected with WNV will experience severe symptoms, such as meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis, and even death. People over the age of 50 are generally at a higher risk for severe symptoms.

Health authorities said the monsoon season creates an opportunity for mosquito breeding.

"The bottom line is that we are all at risk and need to protect ourselves from those pesky critters," said Dr. Bob England, director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health. 

Public health officials recommend applying insect repellent, wearing long clothing, and avoiding outdoor activity after dusk and before dawn. 

Also, residents should mosquito-proof their homes by taking the following precautions:

•    Eliminate mosquito-breeding sites around your property. Drain standing water in potted plants, tires and other containers.

•    Install or repair window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of the home.

•    Keep fountains, animal troughs and swimming pools properly operating and free from debris.

Last year, Maricopa County experienced a mild West Nile virus season with 45 lab-confirmed cases. In 2010, Maricopa County recorded its second worst West Nile virus season with 115. The worst season was in 2004 with 355 confirmed cases.

For more information on West Nile virus, public health assistance, to report green pools or file any mosquito-related complaint, call 602-506-0700 or visit