Arizona’s first human West Nile Virus case for the year has been confirmed in Maricopa County.

A 30-year-old female is at home recovering after being hospitalized with the illness, according to Jeanene Fowler, spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

West Nile Virus is a disease that is transferred from ill birds to mosquitoes to humans. There are different forms of the disease. In most cases, infected people have no symptoms. Sometimes, they have “flu-like” symptoms such as headache, fever, body aches and vomiting.

A small number of people — 1 percent to 3 percent — who are infected with West Nile Virus experience severe symptoms, such as meningitis, encephalitis, and paralysis. In rare cases, people have died from the disease.

The Maricopa County victim was struck with the meningitis form, Fowler said.

People over the age of 50 are generally at a higher risk for severe symptoms, according to the county.

The best way to prevent West Nile Virus is to eliminate spots where mosquitoes can breed around your home, such as standing water in outdoor toys, buckets, plant containers and pools. It’s also important to limit time outdoors when mosquitoes are out — dusk to dawn.

“We would expect West Nile season to last parallel to our heat season. It takes the formula of heat and standing water to breed our mosquitoes, which then feed off our birds, when then gives us West Nile,” she said.

The first human case of 2011 came about the same time as this year, in June, Fowler said.

There were 45 lab-confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus in 2011, with two confirmed deaths.

In 2010, Maricopa County saw its second worst West Nile Virus season with 115 lab-confirmed human cases.

Maricopa County conducts mosquito trapping in a number of areas and mosquito fogging takes place when necessary, said Johnny Diloné, spokesman for the county’s environmental services division.

“Depending on what we trap, if the mosquito trap comes back with 300-plus mosquitoes, we would spray in that area or if a trap comes back positive (for West Nile Virus), we would fog in that area,” he said.

There have been 31 West Nile Virus-positive mosquito samples so far this year, according to the county’s website. One dead bird has also tested positive for the disease.

Spraying may also take place if there are an increased number of the culex mosquitoes, which are associated with the West Nile Virus.

For more information on West Nile Virus, to report green pools or file any mosquito-related complaint, and for West Nile Virus materials or presentations for your group/organization, call (602) 506-0700 or visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or

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