Maricopa County reports first West Nile death of season

Posted: Updated:
Mosquito. (July 21, 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS 5] Mosquito. (July 21, 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS 5]
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Maricopa County officials are reporting the first death this year related to West Nile virus.

Officials with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health said the the person who died was an older adult who also suffered from additional health issues. Sadly, older adults are most at risk for serious complications of West Nile virus.

“These tragic deaths serve as an important reminder to all of us to do our part in protecting ourselves, our families 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 all the recent rain we’ve had, it’s likely we’ll see more mosquito activity. Apply insect repellent and cover up whenever you are outdoors, and do your part to rid your property of water where mosquitoes like to breed,” said Sunenshine.

Officials with the county first detected West Nile virus this year early in May. 

[RELATED: Maricopa county confirms first detection of West Nile virus for 2017]

West Nile virus is typically transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.

It can cause severe illness in people and horses, although only about 20 percent of those infected will develop any symptoms at all.

Those who do develop symptoms usually report fever, headache, body aches and muscle weakness.

Rarely, individuals might experience more severe symptoms including high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and/or encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain. These severe cases can lead to paralysis or death, and usually occur in those over 50 years old.

County officials urge everyone to 'Fight the Bite' by following simple precautions to avoid mosquitoes and the diseases they may carry: 

  • Avoid mosquito bites day and night.
  • Wear lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Use insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, or other EPA registered repellants 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.

According to county records, in 2016 Maricopa County had 5 deaths related to West Nile virus.

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