The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed Friday that two patients have been infected with West Nile Virus in the past week. One patient is from Sandoval County.
Both patients, the other is from Lea County, were hospitalized and are recovering. Also, one horse from Sierra County has also been diagnosed with West Nile virus.
In 2022, New Mexico had 11 human infections of West Nile virus with two deaths. West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitos, and residents are encouraged to take measures to reduce their risk of infection.
To protect yourself from West Nile virus infection, the NMDOH recommends the following:
- Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Among the EPA-approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus/para-menthane-diol.
- Eliminate water-holding containers where mosquitoes lay their eggs, such as old tires, empty cans and other unneeded outdoor items that can hold water.
- Drain the water in birdbaths, wading pools and saucers under potted plants weekly.
- Make sure rain barrels are tightly screened.
- Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Keep windows and doors closed if not screened. If you leave your house doors or windows open, make sure they have screens that fit tightly and have no holes.
Also, for horse owners, it is important to vaccinate your animals to protect them from West Nile virus and Western Equine Encephalitis, which is also carried by mosquitoes.
There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. People ages 50 and older and those with other health issues are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill or dying when they become infected with the virus. If people have symptoms and suspect West Nile virus infection, they should contact their health care provider.
Symptoms of the milder form of illness, West Nile fever, can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People with West Nile fever typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for weeks to months. Symptoms of West Nile neuroinvasive disease can include those of West Nile fever plus neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.