West Nile virus (WNV) is a disease which is spread by mosquitoes, which hatch from standing water. An easily foreseen problem in places like Minnesota (the land of 10,000 lakes) or someplace like Washington state where it rains a lot.
But not here in the Arizona desert right? WRONG!
According to statistics, 764 mosquitoes were found to be carrying WNV in Maricopa County last year.
In 2020, only 10 tested positive for the disease.
The only year that comes close to the counts from last year is 2019, when 417 trapped mosquitoes carried the virus.
Those numbers translated into over 1,400 cases of WNV in human inhabitance of Maricopa County in 2021, according to a new Maricopa County website called “Fight the Bite”.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 80% of people infected with WNV do not develop any symptoms, while one out of five people suffer from body aches, diarrhea, headache, joint pain, rash and/or vomiting. About one in 150 people develop serious symptoms, involving the central nervous system, which could lead to death.
Arizona’s “monsoon season” is rapidly approaching. A time of year typified by short, violent, storms which can drop large amounts of rain in a short period. The rainfall from monsoon storms does not generally have time to soak into the hard desert soil and accumulates in washes and drainage areas. A perfect environment for mosquitoes to breed.
Fight the Bite urges Maricopa County residents to take specific actions, which they call the four R’s, to help avoid being stung by mosquitoes and possibly becoming infected with WNV.
Repel mosquitoes through the use of an EPA-registered insect repellent.
Remove standing water from around your home.
Repair or replace damaged screens on windows and doors to help keep mosquitoes out of your home.
Remind others about mosquito safety.