As the weather is cooling down, the mosquitoes are busy preparing for winter, and the big concern as they feed is the spread of West Nile virus. The number of cases has been alarming in Arizona this year.

Arizona had one of the driest summers in history, not making a difference as far as mosquitos and one of the most common viruses they transport in Maricopa County.

This year, the number of reported cases has been one of the highest in the last decade. There have been 156 cases reported and 15 deaths in Maricopa County

In 2018, there were 24 reported cases and six deaths in Maricopa County.

Statewide, there have been 162 total cases and 16 deaths this year. 

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Arizona has the most reported cases in the country and accounts for nearly half of the deaths from West Nile virus nationwide this year. 

This first case of WNV was reported in Arizona in 2004.

Now that the weather has cooled down, it is the time we see more mosquitos; therefore, you are more likely to get bitten by one.

Protect from mosquito bites

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health recommends you protect yourself from mosquito bites by:

Using insect repellent: Apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin, especially when you’re outdoors.

Wearing long sleeves and pants: Wear long sleeves and pants to prevent mosquito bites. Clothes can be sprayed with repellent since mosquitos can bite through thin materials.

Be aware of peak times: Evening and early morning are peak times for mosquito bites, but mosquitos can bite at any time.

Install/repair screens: Install window or door screen and repair the smallest rips on the screens to prevent mosquitos from getting into your home.

Signs and symptoms

One of every five people with the West Nile virus will develop symptoms, and it takes 2-6 days, according to the Department of Public Health.

The symptoms vary with some people having a fever, headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.  

Severe symptoms are more likely to occur to people over 60 with a history of medical conditions such as cancer, hypertension, etc. And they are symptoms of neurological illness such as headaches, stiffness, disorientation, coma tremors, seizures or paralysis. 

RELATED: More West Nile virus cases being seen throughout Southwest

Prevent mosquito breeding

Since the mosquitos multiply easily, here are some recommendations to prevent that from happening:

Drain standing water: Drain water from flowerpots, buckets, tires, barrels, pets’ water and any other place where the water might attack mosquitos.

Mow your grass weekly: Mosquitos can use long grass to rest and hide

Clean birdbaths weekly: Birdbaths are a great place for mosquitos to lay their eggs. You can prevent them from hatching by keeping the birdbaths clean. 

For more ways to prevent breeding click here.

RELATED: Maricopa County reports first death from West Nile virus

RELATED: Arizona county sees increase in cases of West Nile Virus

Traps and Fogging

The Maricopa County Environmental Services continues to take action to fight the West Nile virus and any other viruses the mosquitos might carry.

There are more than 800 mosquito traps across the Valley to help them determine what viruses mosquitos are carrying.

The traps help county officials determine the areas where they need to be fogged. For the fogging calendar, click or tap here.

For more information on West Nile virus or other mosquito viruses, visit Fight The Bite.