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Two more confirmed cases of West Nile virus reported in El Paso

By: Jesse Martinez
EL PASO, Texas Two more cases of West Nile virus were reported in El Paso days after the first reported case of the season.

A 52-year-old woman in the 79936 ZIP code and a 62-year-old woman in the 79925 ZIP code were the two reported cases. Earlier this week, a 16-year-old boy in the 79928 ZIP code was said to have come in contact with the virus, health officials said.

Officials said the three are recovering.

With the amount of rain the area has had in the last few days, health officials would like to remind residents that they can prevent mosquito breeding by emptying standing water both inside and outside their homes.

"We have a situation where we know the disease is already present in our area, and weather conditions that could make things worse if we don't take personal action" said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director. "It takes a very small amount of stagnant water to create breeding conditions for mosquitoes that carry the disease."

Officials with the City of El Paso Department of Public Health said the last reported case happened more than eight months ago.

"We have had a long dry spell in regards to West Nile in the El Paso area, but we should keep in mind that we started seeing cases in August of last year and continued to see them well into December," said Fernando Gonzalez, lead epidemiologist with the city's Health Department. "We need to make sure that we continue to take precautions against mosquito bites and mosquito breeding so that we don't see the elevated number of cases we saw last year."

In 2012, there were 32 confirmed cases were reported in the area, and six died as result of the virus or underlying health issues.

The following is information on the virus from the city's public health department:

Prevention

The best way to avoid exposure to West Nile Virus is to practice the four Ds:

Use insect repellents that contain DEET
Drain any standing water
Dress in long, loose and light-colored clothing and
Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from Dusk to Dawn.

Symptoms

About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness, which can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days; though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.

No symptoms in most people. Approximately 80 percent of people (about four out of five) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.

For more information on West Nile virus, please visit the Health Department website at www.EPHealth.com and click on the West Nile virus link.

Education

In effort to increase awareness about the disease and ways the public can protect themselves, the department has added a West Nile virus session to the list of presentations offered by the Speakers Bureau. Local civic and community organizations can schedule a presentation that will include background on the disease, prevention methods, as well as what people can look out for in regards to signs and symptoms of infection. Presentations can be scheduled by visiting www.EPHealth.com, and then clicking on the Speakers Bureau link under Special Projects.

 

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