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Health Department reports first West Nile death

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The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that a 76-year-old man from Bernalillo County has died from West Nile Virus infection. 

This is the first fatality due to West Nile Virus in New Mexico in 2012. The man had meningitis and encephalitis, the more severe clinical form of the disease and had been hospitalized since Aug. 23. The Department of Health originally reported this case Aug. 29.

“We have seen West Nile Virus cases in many different areas of New Mexico in the last month. We all need to do our best to prevent mosquito bites, especially people older than 50, who are at most at risk for developing serious complications from the disease,” said Cabinet Secretary of Health Catherine Torres, M.D.

New human cases by county:

Three new cases have been reported since the last update, bringing the total for this year to 21 cases.

The new cases are:

1. 44-year-old man from Bernalillo County. Encephalitis/meningitis.

2. 21-year-old woman from Valencia County. Encephalitis/meningitis.

3. 73-year-old woman from Sandoval County. Encephalitis/meningitis

Total human cases by county: 

Bernalillo County: 6 cases; 63-year-old man, encephalitis/meningitis; 58-year-old woman, encephalitis/meningitis; 55-year-old man, uncomplicated fever; 76-year-old man, encephalitis/meningitis, which resulted in death; 56-year-old woman, uncomplicated fever; 44-year-old man, Encephalitis/meningitis

Cibola County: 1 case; 59-year-old man, uncomplicated fever.

Curry County: 1 case; 32-year-old man, uncomplicated fever.

Dona Ana County: 5 cases; 54-year-old man, encephalitis/meningitis; 76 year old man, encephalitis/meningitis; 78-year-old man, uncomplicated fever; 9 year old boy, encephalitis/meningitis; 72-year-old man, encephalitis/meningitis.

Lea County: 1 case; 59-year-old man, uncomplicated fever.

Rio Arriba: 1 case; 62-year-old woman, meningitis.

San Juan County: 1 case; 43-year-old man, uncomplicated fever.

San Miguel County: 1 case; 67-year-old man, uncomplicated fever. 

Sandoval County: 3 cases; 79-year-old man, encephalitis/meningitis; 81 year old man, encephalitis/meningitis; 73 year-old-woman, encephalitis/meningitis.

Valencia County: 1 Case; 21-year-old woman, encephalitis/meningitis.

To protect yourself from West Nile: 

• Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 for use on skin and permethrin for use on clothing. Always follow label directions when using insect repellents. 

• When weather permits, wear protective clothing such as loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. 

• The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing, or avoid outdoor activities during these times. 

•Eliminate water-holding containers where mosquitoes lay their eggs, such as old tires, and regularly change the water in birdbaths, wading pools and pet water bowls. Make sure rain barrels are tightly screened. 

• 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. 

• Vaccinate your horses to protect them from West Nile Virus and Western Equine Encephalitis, which is also carried by mosquitoes. 

 Common West Nile Virus symptoms are fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. In rare cases, West Nile Virus can cause meningitis or encephalitis. If someone has these symptoms, they should see their health care provider. People older than 50 are at most risk for serious disease from West Nile Virus.