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Friday, August 03, 2007

Ten mosquito bites and counting

I am so doomed. I swear, each day there are at least three more. Nothing keeps them away. Must go buy...Deet? Argh. This cheerful press release just came in, which did nothing to counter my ongoing paranoia.

Health Department Announces Two More Human West Nile Cases in NM
State Encourages New Mexicans to Protect Themselves Against Mosquitoes

(Santa Fe) – The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that two more New Mexicans have been diagnosed with West Nile. A 60-year-old woman from San Juan County had meningitis and a 15-year-old girl from Roosevelt County had encephalitis and meningitis. They were both hospitalized and have returned home.

There have been four cases of West Nile in New Mexico so far this year. The first two cases this year were in a 57-year-old woman from Chaves County and a 66-year-old man from Doña Ana County. Both are still hospitalized.
“We’re seeing West Nile activity in many different areas of the state so everyone needs to be careful,” said the Department of Health’s State Epidemiologist C. Mack Sewell. “Protect yourself by using a repellent when you are outdoors, especially during the evening and early morning when mosquitoes are most active.”
To avoid West Nile infection:
Use insect repellent on exposed skin when you go outdoors. Products containing DEET or Picaridin can provide long-lasting protection. Use products with no more than 35 percent DEET for adults and follow the directions on the label for children from ages 2-12. Natural products containing soybean oil or oil of lemon eucalyptus have also been shown to be effective but need to be applied more often.
When weather permits, wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. Mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing, so use an EPA-registered repellent on your clothing.
The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing, or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
Keep windows and doors closed if not screened. If you leave your house doors or windows open, make sure they have screens that fit tightly and have no holes.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Regularly change water from old tires, flowerpots, trash containers, swimming pools, birdbaths, pet bowls, etc.
Vaccinate your horses against West Nile virus, as well as Western Equine Encephalitis, which is also carried by mosquitoes.
Do not use inspect repellent on cats and dogs. So far, both have been resistant to the virus.
Common West Nile symptoms are fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. In rare cases, West Nile Virus can cause meningitis or encephalitis. If someone has these symptoms, they should see their health care provider. People older than 50 are at most risk for serious disease from West Nile Virus.
Both meningitis and encephalitis can be fatal, especially in the elderly. However, most people who become infected have either no symptoms or have only mild symptoms, and less than 1 percent of all people infected, including those who have no symptoms and have not been tested, develop meningitis or encephalitis. Meningitis is an infection of the lining around the brain, while encephalitis is an infection of the brain itself.
Earlier this year, horses from Eddy, Socorro, and Mora counties and mosquitoes from San Juan, Bernalillo, and Doña Ana counties tested positive for West Nile. In 2006, New Mexico had eight cases of West Nile with one fatality. New Mexico had 33 cases with two fatalities in 2005, 88 cases with four fatalities in 2004 and 209 cases with four fatalities in 2003.
For more information about West Nile, look up the Department of Health’s website: