Think it’s too hot for mosquitoes? Think again! Arizona is home to several mosquito species, including the Culex species that can carry West Nile virus and Saint Louis Encephalitis virus. West Nile virus causes symptoms in about 20% of infected people, which can range from fever, headaches, and body aches, to more serious things like inflammation of the brain or spinal cord in rare cases. For Saint Louis Encephalitis, only one percent of infected people ever develop symptoms of fever, tiredness, headaches, dizziness and nausea.
This summer a record high West Nile virus and Saint Louis Encephalitis positive mosquitoes have been reported in the state, particularly in Maricopa County. The increase is likely due to the wetter conditions that Arizona has experienced during the last winter. The number of human West Nile virus cases is also a record high so far, with 126 confirmed and probable cases reported in comparison to an average of about 20 cases for this time of the year. Four human cases of Saint Louis Encephalitis have been reported, which is about average so far. However, being monsoon season is upon us, we are expecting to see more positive mosquitoes and human cases.
ADHS is working closely with local health departments, vector control agencies and the CDC to increase our surveillance of these mosquito-borne diseases so we can continue to provide specific prevention messages to Arizonans and keep healthcare providers in the state up to date.
To protect yourself from getting sick, it’s important to avoid mosquitoes by wearing insect repellent, making sure your screens are intact if you’re leaving your doors and windows open, and wearing long sleeves and pants if you’re going to be outside. In Arizona, disease-causing mosquitoes can bite all day and all night, so you need to stay protected at all times. For more information on how to protect yourself and your family visit our website.