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County Public Health Department Reports First West Nile Virus Death in 2021
Date: 10/20/2021

Pinal County Public Health regrets to announce the first deaths in the County this year resulting from West Nile Virus. 

In both of the two cases, the victims were over 80 years of age with comorbidities.

2021 has proved to be the harshest West Nile Virus (WNV) year in Pinal County's history. Public Health has seen 46 confirmed cases so far, with a further 61 potential cases under investigation. This is consistent with what has been seen across the State of Arizona after a heavy monsoon that allowed the mosquitoes that spread the disease to proliferate.

While temperatures are dropping and we are seeing less rainfall, the dangers of West Nile Virus are still present. "This has been an unusually challenging West Nile Virus season," commented Chris Reimus, Division Manager for Environmental Health. "Even though it is cooling down and the season is coming to an end, it is important that people remain vigilant in avoiding mosquitoes and preventing mosquito breeding."

West Nile Virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.

West Nile Virus can cause a mild illness that lasts for a few days or a more serious condition that affects the central nervous system. The risk of developing a more serious disease increases with age, compromised immune status, and presence of comorbidities.

Arizona has an above-average incidence of neuroinvasive disease caused by West Nile Virus at greater than 0.75 cases per 100,000 population. If you have had a recent mosquito exposure and experience symptoms like fever, fatigue, joint pains, stiff neck, or altered mental state, please consult your healthcare provider.

Every person can take steps to help prevent the spread of West Nile Virus.  Do not allow mosquitoes to breed on your property:

  • Remove standing water, even in flower pots and dog bowls
  • Keep swimming pools in operable condition
  • If you must be outside when mosquitoes are present (most active at dawn and dusk), wear long-sleeve clothing and an EPA-approved and CDC-recommended mosquito repellant such as DEET or picaridin

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