Health department offers prevention tips amid first West Nile Vi - Tucson News Now

Health department offers prevention tips amid first West Nile Virus death in AZ

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Arizona has its first reported West Nile Virus death of 2013.

Maricopa County's public health director says an elderly woman from the suburbs southeast of Phoenix died earlier this month.

The Cochise County Health and Social Service Department reminds the public of precautionary practices for West Nile Virus protection.

The mosquito-born virus was first detected in the United States in 1999 and in Arizona in 2003.

Approximately 80 percent of infected people develop either no or few symptoms, and the remaining 20 percent reportedly experience mild signs of illness, including headache, body aches, fever greater than 100.4 degrees, skin rash, nausea and swollen lymph glands.

The elderly are more susceptible to catching a disease stemming from the virus. Less than one percent has caught encephalitis, a brain-swelling disease, as a result of West Nile virus. Those with developing symptoms should call a doctor. Otherwise, most people can recover on their own.

The health department says the virus is most prevalent during "mosquito season," which lasts from July through October in Cochise County. It primarily affects humans, birds and horses. Also, people with the virus are not contagious to other people, according to a news release.

Approximately 114 possible human cases of the virus were tested in Arizona as of July 30, though only eight were deemed "probable" and none were confirmed.

According to the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, there is neither current treatment nor prevention, though protecting yourself from mosquito bites is recommended.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage the public to avoid outside activity at dusk and dawn during mosquito season; use insect repellant; wear long sleeves and pants; install or repair windows and door screens; and do not leave open water containers outside, including flower pots, buckets and kiddie pools.

The prevention center also recommends horse owners to consider vaccinating their horses against the virus.

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