West Nile Virus case counts continue to rise in Maricopa County: What you need to know to protect yourself

With all the rain the Valley has seen this monsoon season, there are many mosquitoes, and the West Nile Virus case count is climbing in Maricopa County.

To date, there have been four deaths and more than 100 cases have been reported in Maricopa County, and as health officials become increasingly worried, they are warning the public about the virus' dangers.

While most people infected with West Nile don’t get symptoms, older people and those with weakened immune systems are more prone to diseases that be fatal.

Family shares West Nile's impact

The family of Donald Streets says he as just enjoying a night out on his patio when he was bitten by a mosquito. Now, they want to share his story as a warning to others.

They say Streets, who was 86, first felt nausea, trouble breathing, light-headedness, and being off balance, but when he headed to the hospital, he was sent home, with people there saying he was dehydrated.

Streets' son, Ramin, says the symptoms just got progressively worse for the next two weeks before doctors realized he had West Nile.

"He declined over the next two weeks. His breathing was getting worse. They were having trouble keeping up with his oxygen levels. He was having to transfer over to the pop machine with the forehead mask on, shoving oxygen into his lungs to keep him going.

Streets passed away on Sept. 16.

4 deaths already recorded

Currently, the health department is reporting 123 cases of West Nile across the state, and 104 of those cases are in Maricopa County. The four deaths recorded are also in Maricopa County.

Officials say the virus is being detected in a record number of mosquitoes tested, with 612 mosquito samples testing positive for West Nile, compared to just 10 in 2020.

What you need to do to protect yourself

Officials with the Maricopa County Health Department are asking those who are heading out doors to:

  • Wear bug repellent.
  • Long sleeves and pants if it is not too hot
  • Get rid of standing water in the backyard area, including those collecting in plant containers and toys, as those are the breeding areas for mosquitoesFix broken screens or doors so that mosquitoes don't go inside a home

CDC Information on West Nile

https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html

AZDHS Information on West Nile

https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/mosquito-borne/west-nile-virus/index.php

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