First confirmed death from West Nile in Maricopa County

West Nile cases spike as monsoon season hits

PHOENIX - On Friday, the Maricopa County Health Department confirmed the first reported death from West Nile.

"Every year we see cases of West Nile virus," said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine with the county, "and tragically, we've just confirmed the first death."

Along with the monsoon storms the Valley has been witnessing comes the mosquitoes, and in some cases, the virus. Already this year, there have been 19 confirmed cases.

In comparison to 2016, the county said they saw 63 confirmed cases. Five people died.

"80 percent of people don’t have any symptoms," said Dr. Sunenshine. "One in five will have flu-like symptoms that don’t have any treatment. Unfortunately, rarely (less than 1 percent of the time), people can get a severe form of illness that invades the brain and spinal cord and cause paralysis or even death."

The county said hospitals only detect the severe form of the virus and warn the best way to not get it is to be preventative against mosquito bites.

"West Nile typically affects older individuals with underlying health conditions, which was the case this time around," said Dr. Sunenshine. "It's important for people to wear insect repellent. Wear long sleeves and pants, if you can stand it. And remove standing water from your yard where mosquitoes breed."

Tips to avoid mosquito bites: http://12ne.ws/2gTmAvO

For more information, visit the county's website: https://www.maricopa.gov/2470/West-Nile-Virus.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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