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Pinal County reports first two West Nile Virus deaths this year

Pinal County Public Health announced two deaths in the county this year resulting from West Nile Virus.

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. — Pinal County has reported two deaths resulting from West Nile Virus for 2021. 

On Wednesday, Pinal County released information about two people who had died due to complications of the virus. Both were over 80 years old and had contributing health issues, according to officials.

The county first reported a positive West Nile case in late August. Since then, the Pinal County Public Health Department has reported 46 positive cases and 61 potential cases this year. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arizona has had more confirmed cases of West Nile virus than any other state in 2021.

A heavy monsoon allowed mosquitoes to spread the virus. This year's monsoon season was the wettest since 2014 in Phoenix, according to the National Weather Services. 

Although temperatures are dropping and there's less rainfall, the dangers of the West Nile Virus are still present, officials said. 

"This has been an unusually challenging West Nile Virus season," said Chris Reimus, division manager for Pinal County Environmental Health. "Even though it is cooling down and the season is coming to an end, it is important that people remain vigilant in avoiding mosquitoes and preventing mosquito breeding."

Mosquito season starts in the summer and continues through fall.

Symptoms of the virus can vary from a mild illness that lasts for a few days or a more serious condition that affects the central nervous system, the press release said. The risk of contracting a serious infection increases with age and compromised immune status.

It's suggested that those who have recently been bit by a mosquito and experience symptoms such as a fever, fatigue, joint pains, stiff neck, or altered mental state, should consult a health care provider.

The Environmental Health Division found that an abundance of vector mosquito activity throughout the central and western portions of Pinal County through mosquito surveillance.

How to prevent the spread of West Nile Virus

  • Remove standing water, even in flower pots and dog bowls
  • Keep swimming pools in operable condition
  • If you're outside when mosquitoes are present (most active at dawn and dusk), wear long-sleeve clothing and EPA-approved and CDC-recommended mosquito repellants such as DEET or picaridin

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