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West Nile Virus, Mosquitoes, and You!

Our first draft of this post came after reports of the first death of West Nile in the Valley this year. In the short time since then, that count has risen to NINETEEN! An exceptionally high death rate in and of itself, according to a local news source we’ve also broken our previous record of total cases at 361. This may not sound like a lot, but consider this: last year, there were three total cases and only one death. So what is the West Nile virus, and where does it come from?

What is the West Nile virus?

West Nile is a virus spread in the US primarily by mosquitoes. According to the CDC, it is not generally contagious from person to person. It requires direct blood interaction with an infected person (such as via a blood transfusion or organ transplant), animal, or insect to spread. Fortunately, it is largely asymptomatic in the majority of people that get infected. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately a fifth of infected people develop mild to moderate symptoms including a fever, aches, vomiting, etc. These patients don’t usually require medical attention and generally recover on their own. About 1% of infected people develop severe neurological symptoms and require medical assistance. Severe symptoms include seizures, severe fever and headache, numbness, and tremors, among others. Infections of this severity can result in permanent damage, so prompt medical intervention is extremely important.

What is causing this year’s spike in West Nile cases in Phoenix?

Most years here in the Phoenix area, cases are extremely low and deaths even lower (if at all). However, with this year’s wetter-than-usual monsoon and the resulting floods and excess water pooling all around, mosquito populations have exploded. With that of course, so have West Nile cases.

How do mosquitoes catch the West Nile virus?

Mosquitoes pick up the virus by feeding on infected birds. They pass it along from there to humans when they feed on us afterward.

What can I do to prevent mosquitoes?

Ah, the age-old question. Even without West Nile, the annoyance of mosquito bites alone is enough to make people want to prevent them altogether. Though they can’t generally be completely eliminated, you can approach it with a combination of attacks that includes:

  • wearing repellant, to discourage them from biting you
  • removing sources of stagnant water around your property. Mosquitoes are attracted to sitting water, such as buckets filled with rain water, plant potters, spare tires (don’t laugh! They’re a common source for pooling water), etc. These kinds of sources will attract mosquitoes like magnets!
  • keeping your doors and windows shut and sealed – to prevent them from invading your house
  • subscribe to our monthly pest control service! Our monthly treatments target a variety household pests, including mosquitoes

For more information, check out our previous post about mosquitoes! And don’t forget to give us a call or complete the form on this page if you have any questions!