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Banner Health offers tips to avoid West Nile virus

PHOENIX (September 24, 2021) – As record-breaking rainfalls continue across Arizona, more cases of West Nile virus are also being reported. West Nile virus, a disease usually transmitted by mosquitoes, is likely to remain in the area until the first freeze this fall.

“West Nile virus infection goes undetected in most individuals,” said Dr. Nelson Nicolasora, infectious diseases physician at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. “In those who develop symptoms, health issues can range from mild headache, body aches and fever, to more severe symptoms including weakness and mental status changes.”

Prevention strategies include: 

  • Drain standing water around your house weekly, since this is where mosquitoes lay their eggs. This should include tires, cans, flower pots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, toys and puddles. Treat decorative ponds with bleach or commercial larvicide products to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs, or drain the ponds. 
  • Limit outdoor activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes that carry the virus are most active.
  • When looking for insect repellents, look for products approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, also known as the EPA. DEET is an effective ingredient to seek in insect repellents. Always follow the label instructions. Repellents with 10 percent DEET are approved for pediatric use.
  • Golfers need to use repellent. They are at an increased risk of exposure to mosquitoes, especially during early morning hours when there is dew in the grass and in water features around the course.
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants during dusk and dawn, or in areas where mosquitoes are active. Wearing lighter-colored clothing versus dark clothing can help to avoid attracting mosquitoes. 

“Symptoms of mild disease will generally last a few days, and symptoms of severe disease may last several weeks,” said Dr. Nelson Nicolasora, infectious diseases physician at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. 

Common mild symptoms of West Nile include: 

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Skin rash on the trunk of the body
  • Swollen lymph glands

Severe symptoms include: (West Nile, encephalitis or meningitis) 

  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • Stupor
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis

Banner Health is working with local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent, detect and treat the virus. To learn more about the current number of West Nile virus cases, please visit the Arizona Department of Health Services dashboard.

As one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, the team at Banner Health is committed to ensuring all Banner locations are a safe place for care. Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health owns and operates 30 acute-care hospitals and an array of other services, including: Banner Imaging, Banner Telehealth and Banner Urgent Care. Team members are dedicated to protecting the health and safety of patients, be it a routine checkup, elective surgery or an urgent health service. Waiting room and employee workstation layouts maintain proper social distancing; screenings are conducted at hospital entrances to verify that all employees and visitors are well; and, all Banner physicians are equipped to visit patients remotely. Learn more about Banner's commitment to safety at bannerhealth.com/safecare.

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For further information contact us at: media@bannerhealth.com