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Home News Department of Health reports new cases West Nile virus infections
David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
575-649-0754 Mobile

Department of Health reports new cases West Nile virus infections

August 10, 2023 - Zoonotic Diseases - Safety

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) confirms an increase in West Nile virus infections, with eight newly identified cases, bringing the total count to ten for the year 2023. Among these cases, two individuals are currently hospitalized, five have been discharged post-hospitalization, and three residents did not require admission. The initial two infections of the year were confirmed and reported in late July

The most recent infections have been observed among residents in Bernalillo, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Torrance, and Valencia Counties. Additionally, the West Nile virus has been detected in eight horses and two birds across Doña Ana, Los Alamos, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Sierra, Taos, Torrance, Union, and Valencia Counties. 

"The emergence of these new cases serves as a reminder of the continued threat posed by West Nile virus,” said Chad Smelser, MD, Deputy State Epidemiologist. “As mosquito activity increases during this season, it is imperative that we remain vigilant and adopt measures to protect ourselves and our communities."   

The West Nile virus is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes which are most active during dawn and dusk. Mosquitoes can proliferate with or without rain, using stagnant water from everyday sources like plant watering and irrigation. They can breed in small containers found around homes. 

In light of the of monsoon season, DOH advises individuals to maintain a mosquito-free environment by taking these steps:  

  • Utilize EPA-approved insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus/para-menthane-diol when outdoors, following the instructions on the label.
  • Eradicate water-holding containers that serve as mosquito breeding sites, including old tires, empty cans, and unnecessary outdoor items.   
  • Regularly empty water from birdbaths, wading pools, and potted plant saucers.   
  • Ensure tightly screened rain barrels.   
  • Wear protective clothing like long sleeves and pants during peak mosquito activity hours.   
  • Keep windows and doors closed if not equipped with proper screens.   

"We urge horse owners to prioritize their animals' well-being by ensuring they are up to date on vaccinations against West Nile virus. This proactive measure can safeguard their health," said Erin Phipps, DVM, MPH, DOH Public Health Veterinarian. 

It's important to note that no medications exist to treat or prevent West Nile virus infection in humans. Individuals aged 50 and older, along with those with underlying health conditions, face the highest risk of severe illness or fatality following infection.   

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.  

People with symptoms and suspect West Nile virus infection should contact their healthcare provider.  

For more information about West Nile virus, including fact sheets in English and Spanish, go to the DOH’s West Nile webpage.

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El Departamento de Salud informa de nuevos casos de infección por el virus del Nilo Occidental