Maricopa County confirmed its first positive mosquito sample for West Nile virus was found last month in the East Valley.
The county traps mosquitoes to determine when to fog an area and when to alert the community.
West Nile is a disease that is transmitted from sick birds to mosquitoes to humans through bites.
“Throughout the years we have found positive samples and problems in different areas of the county,” said Johnny Diloné, public information officer for Maricopa County Environmental Services Department. “It’s a condition and concern for everyone in Maricopa County.”
In most cases, humans who are infected with West Nile feel no symptoms or mild flu-like symptoms. In rare instances, the disease can lead to swelling of the brain and even death.
Last year, there was an explosion of the disease in Texas and other parts of the country. Texas alone saw more than 1,700 human cases and 76 deaths.
In Arizona, there were 125 human cases and four deaths reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2012. The prior year, there were 69 human cases and four deaths.
Maricopa County saw an increase in mosquitoes testing positive for the disease — from 95 in 2011 to 168 in 2012.
“It used to be the mosquito season started in May or toward the end of April. Then we saw a few years where it was early in March. This was definitely early,” Diloné said.
The county has also seen an increase in the number of mosquitoes captured in traps. There are traps across the county, from Queen Creek to Peoria.
Residents are advised to remove standing water around their homes to help remove breeding grounds for the mosquitoes. Even an overturned bucket or child’s toy can hold water.
“It is important to remember that the more we prevent mosquitoes from breeding, the more we can control the West Nile virus,” John Kolman, Environmental Services Department director, said in a statement.
Anyone spending time outdoors from dusk to dawn should also wear clothing that covers their skin and repellent.
To report a mosquito problem, call (602) 506-0700. For more information, visit the website at Maricopa.gov/wnv.
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