Local man contracts West Nile

William Thompson

According to the New Mexico Department of Public Health, a 45-year-old Quay County man contracted the West Nile Virus sometime in August. Beth Velasquez, a spokesperson for the health department, said it is likely the man has already recovered from mild symptoms.
“The man had ‘West Nile fever’,” said Velasquez. “It is a mild form of the West Nile virus.”

The single case of West Nile fever is the only known instance of someone in Quay County infected with the West Nile virus this year. Armstrong said other residents are not out of the woods just yet. “People can still contract the West Nile virus up until your area’s first hard frost,” said Velasquez. The first hard frost usually hits the Quay County area in mid-October.

Velasquez said the health department does not know whether the man contracted the virus in Quay County or elsewhere, and she could not give any other details of how the man contracted the disease, other than to say that the disease is only passed to humans by infected mosquitoes.
Dee Reed, nurse manager for Quay County Public Health, said there are still areas in Quay County where mosquitoes are breeding. “We still have areas that have not completely dried up from summer rains,” said Reed. “Mosquitoes can breed anywhere there is standing water. That includes old tires, flower pots, trash cans, swimming pools, bird baths and swimming pools.”

Reed said that in general, most infected individuals experience mild flu-like symptoms or little or no symptoms at all. Less than 1 percent of infections lead to meningitis.
“The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk than the general population,” she said.
An 82-year-old Curry County woman died recently from complications due to West Nile virus encephalitis.
Reed said there are a number of ways to attempt to prevent infection. “Keep all your windows closed or make sure they have screens that fit really well,” said Reed. “Do not allow water to stagnate in any type of container. Use insect repellent with no more than 35 percent DEET, and stay indoors at dawn, dusk and early evening.” Reed said symptoms of West Nile infection resemble flu symptoms such as fever, nausea, headaches and muscle aches.