The New Mexico Department of Health recommends people protect themselves against mosquito bites and from exposure to rodents while enjoying the outdoors this summer.
The Department of Health’s Scientific Laboratory confirmed that mosquitoes from Las Cruces tested positive for West Nile Virus this week, according to a press release.
The department has also confirmed plague in six cats and three dogs from Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Rio Arriba counties so far this year, the release said.
There has been one case of plague in an Eddy County man who got the disease in January from hunting rabbits, according to the release.
There have been no human cases of West Nile so far this year, the release said.
“We see the most cases of West Nile Virus infection, including fatalities, from July through September,” said Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian, in the release. “Fortunately, it is easy to protect yourself by taking precautions, such as using a repellent when you are outdoors, especially during the evening and early morning when mosquitoes are most active.”
Common West Nile symptoms are fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. 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.
In 2007, New Mexico had 60 human cases of West Nile Virus with three fatalities and five cases of plague with one fatality, the release said.
Tips for prevening mosquito bites
- l 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 weather permits, wear protective clothing such as loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks.
Hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing, or avoid outdoor activities.
Eliminate water-holding containers where mosquitoes lay their eggs
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.
Vaccinate your horses to protect them from West Nile Virus and Western Equine Encephalitis, which is also carried by mosquitoes.