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Officials: Man, 84, first known West Nile virus-related death of season

By: Jesse Martinez
EL PASO, Texas An 84-year-old man died after contracting the West Nile virus and two new cases were reported, bringing the total number of cases of the virus to 13 this season, according to health officials.

Health officials said the man had several underlying health conditions when he contracted the virus in the 79903 ZIP code. He is the first reported West Nile virus-related death this season.

"It is always difficult to report the death of one of our residents because of this disease," said Fernando Gonzalez, lead epidemiologist with the city. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones and with the entire community as we all do what we can to prevent the incidence of this virus."

Two new cases of the virus were reported by an 84-year-old man in the 79907 ZIP code and a 51-year-old man in the 79932 ZIP code.

Around this time last year, 27 cases and five deaths were reported, according to local health officials.

The following is a list of reported cases of West Nile virus in the El Paso area this year:

16 y/o Male 79928
52 y/o Female 79936
62 y/o Female 79925
62 y/o Female 79932
63 y/o Female 79924
70 y/o Female 79922
48 y/o Female 79924
59 y/o Female 79928
48 y/o Male 79915
66 y/o Male 79932
84 y/o Male 79903 (deceased)
84 y/o Male 79907
51 y/o Male 79932

The city health department released the following information to help prevent residents against the virus:

Local residents are also being asked to practice the four Ds to prevent the mosquito bites that transfer the disease:

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

To report large areas of standing water or areas suspected of mosquito breeding, call Environmental Services at 311.

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 4 out of 5) 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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