Protecting yourself from West Nile virus

Posted: Updated:
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The monsoon not only brings a lot of rain and dust to the Valley, but it can also bring mosquitoes. And where there are mosquitoes, there's danger of West Nile virus.

With one confirmed case already in Maricopa County, there are some tips on what to look for and how to help protect your family.

“I think last year we were No. 2 for the number of West Nile virus cases,” said Dr. Cara Christ, medical director for the Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Every year the state prepares for the West Nile virus.  

“We check chickens to see if they're getting bitten by mosquitoes,” Christ said. “We check mosquito pools to figure out where to spray. We get samples from blood banks, so we can test them anonymously to see if people are showing up with the virus.”

Christ said West Nile virus symptoms can include fever, headaches and fatigue.

“Most people, it's just going to be a common cold or flu-like symptoms, so most can ride it out without going to the doctor,” Christ continued. “It's really when you start to have concerning symptoms.”

Those symptoms can be anything from having a stiff neck to disorientation or confusion.

“We always recommend to people that they should go see their health care provider if they feel like that and they've got a compromising condition,” Christ said.

But to fight off being bitten by a mosquito, the doctor said, “Make sure you're wearing long sleeves. Make sure you're wearing your mosquito repellant.”

When it comes to keeping the mosquitoes from invading your home, Christ has some advice.

“Make sure that there is no standing water, so dump over pails, dump over bowls, make sure the flowerpots aren't filling up,” she said.

Christ also said if you have areas that collect water during the monsoon season, make sure you’re trying to help those areas drain.

For more information on West Nile Virus, log on to