The Arizona monsoon usually brings much-needed rain to the state. But that rain can leave behind puddles and pools that are perfect for breeding mosquitoes. The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) wants everyone in the state to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites. Mosquitoes can carry the West Nile Virus, which can be fatal to people and animals.
"So far, we haven't had any cases of West Nile Virus reported for the 2012 season, but it's always a threat," said Will Humble, ADHS Director. "Because it's carried by mosquitoes, we have to work together to prevent the spread of the virus. Make sure there's no standing water around your house. Simple actions, like tipping over your wheel barrow, can reduce potential mosquito breeding grounds. If you see something at your neighbors, work with them to resolve it. Reducing the breeding places for mosquitoes will cut down the number of cases of West Nile we get in the state."
ADHS is already investigating a few possible cases of West Nile Virus this year, but has not confirmed them. Last season, Arizona had 69 reported cases of West Nile Virus - the second highest number of cases in the nation. The year before, we were the highest in the nation with 166 cases.
The best way to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses is by reducing the number of mosquitoes around your neighborhood, and taking personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites:
* Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed. Check for and eliminate items outside the home that may collect water, such as cans, bottles, jars, buckets, old tires, drums and other containers.
* Change water in flower vases, birdbaths and animal watering pans at least twice a week
* Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes in them.
* Wear lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs.
* Use insect repellent to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes anytime you go outside. This is particularly important for the elderly and small children.
It is still early in the West Nile Virus season, so activity is expected to increase during the summer and fall. This may result in an increase in human cases.
For additional information on West Nile Virus, please visit the Arizona Department of Health Services' website at www.westnileaz.com.