Take Precautions to Prevent Mosquito Bites
The New Mexico Department of Health is reminding New Mexicans to take precautions against mosquito bites. Infected mosquitoes can transmit West Nile Virus to humans.
In 2013, there were 38 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in New Mexico, and 3 deaths. No cases have been reported so far in 2014. Cases have been reported as early as June, but peak time for West Nile in New Mexico is usually July and August. The number of West Nile cases fluctuates from year to year, and it’s difficult to predict how this season will shape up.
“Serious illness can occur in people of all ages if they are bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile Virus. Older adults, especially those over 60 years of age, are more susceptible to developing serious complications from West Nile Virus,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “It’s important for people to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, especially between dusk and dawn, which is peak biting time for mosquitoes.”
Common West Nile Virus 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.
“Mosquitoes can also transmit West Nile Virus to horses. Now is a good time for horse owners to contact their veterinarian about getting them vaccinated,” said state Public Health Veterinarian Paul Ettestad.
To protect you and your family from West Nile Virus infection:
- Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 for use on skin, and permethrin for use on clothing. Always follow label directions when using insect repellents.
- When weather permits, wear protective clothing such as loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks.
- The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing, or avoid outdoor activities during these times.
- Eliminate water-holding containers where mosquitoes lay their eggs, such as old tires, and regularly change the water in birdbaths, wading pools and pet water bowls. Make sure rain barrels are tightly screened.
- 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.
For more information about West Nile Virus, including fact sheets in English and Spanish, go to the West Nile Virus section of our website.
We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.