Maricopa Co. reports first West Nile death of 2017

An elderly person from Maricopa County has died from west nile virus, according to the Department of Public Health.

Officials have confirmed the first West Nile virus-caused death of 2017 in Maricopa County.

The victim was "an older adult who also suffered from additional health issues," according to a release from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

The release said 18 other human cases have also been reported this season.

“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 in the release.

“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.”

West Nile usually is transmitted by a mosquito bite. County officials some symptoms can be fever, headache, body aches and muscle weakness. More severe symptoms could include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and inflammation of the brain. Those over 50 years old are at greater risk of more severe symptoms, according to officials.

Some suggestions from county health officials to avoid mosquito bites:

-Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs
-Use insect repellents that contain DEET or Picaridin
-Check your doors and windows to be sure they're closed or screens are sealed tightly on them
-Make sure you don't have standing water in your home where mosquitos can breed
-Be certain your swimming pool is properly maintained

Maricopa County had 63 human cases of West Nile virus last year, including five deaths, officials said.

For more information, visit FightTheBiteMaricopa.org.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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