Arizona is seeing an increase in the West Nile virus

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Arizona is seeing a significant increase in cases of West Nile virus. Last year, as of September 20th, Maricopa County had just three cases of the virus. This year the county reported 104-cases and counting. We learned more about West Nile virus and best to avoid it from Dr. Shad Marvasti, from the UA College of Medicine.

“West Nile disease is an infection that comes from the West Nile Virus and it’s something that is seasonal in North America, it’s a seasonal epidemic, it flares up in the summer and continues into the fall and you can only get it through mosquito bites. The mosquitos have bitten usually an infected bird…and then you basically get the infection,” Marvasti said.

Something to note is that 80 percent of people usually don’t know they have the disease but 20 percent will have some sort of symptoms that include: fever, headaches, body aches, nausea, vomiting, sometimes swollen lymph glands.

Of that 20 percent, 1 in 150 people will have severe symptoms that could lead to the point of vision loss, numbness, tremors, neurological problems and death.

Some are more at risk of the virus such as the elderly and those with chronic illnesses.

You can test for West Nile through the blood and Maricopa County has been testing mosquitos for the virus in the area. There is no real treatment for this virus.

We lead the nation right now in symptomatic West Nile virus. It could be largely due to the big monsoon season we’ve had.

Marvasti said there are some preventative measures the CDC has recommended like certain bug sprays and oils. He also recommends spending less time outside during dusk and dawn when mosquitos tend to be out.

Dr. Shad Marvasti, Director, Public Health, Prevention, & Health Promotion University of Arizona College of Medicine

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