West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness and has been found in 48 of the states. Most people who are infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms or may experience mild illness such as a fever, headache, and swollen glands 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. It is estimated that 1% of people bitten by an infected mosquito will develop encephalitis, inflammation of the brain. Symptoms of encephalitis include high fever, headache, muscle weakness or paralysis, seizures, and confusion. People with symptoms should see a doctor.
Mosquito activity usually peaks in August so right now is a good time to put prevention practices to use. Avoid mosquito bites by wearing shoes, socks, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors during dawn and dusk and use a mosquito repellent. Mosquito proof your home by removing all standing water and checking window screens for holes. Mosquitos don’t need much water to breed so turn over your plastic containers, pools and other water-holding containers. Remove the mosquito’s favorite breeding site: discarded tires.
Monsoon rains can provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes that often travel several miles for a blood meal. Interestingly, only female mosquitoes rely on blood for sustenance while male mosquitoes feed on nectar. It takes 10-20 days for a mosquito to go from egg to adulthood.
The La Paz County Health Department is committed to serving and educating the community of La Paz County on all public health issues. For more information, go to www.lpchd.com.