West Nile Virus, Interview with Dr. Jeffrey Thomas

By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Rainy weather in recent days has left pools of standing water all over the state, and that has state health authorities worried about a sometimes fatal disease – West Nile virus.

Take some stagnant water, add mosquitoes, mix in some West Nile and you have a recipe for a very serious illness that has already killed two people in New Mexico this year and made five others sick.  Mosquitoes breed and hatch in stagnant water, and sometimes they carry West Nile.

“The vast majority of healthy individuals wouldn’t even know that they’ve been afflicted with West Nile virus,” said Dr. Jeffrey Thomas of Lovelace Health Care Center, a new clinic at 8401 Constitution NE in Albuquerque. “Only a small subset go on to develop fever and general body aches that pass within two to three weeks.”

About one percent of the cases are life-threatening, and for elderly people and people with chronic illnesses, the risk is much higher. Your best bet is to stay inside, especially from dusk to dawn, and use an insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.

“There are mosquito populations throughout the state,’ said Dr. Paul Ettestadt, the state department of Health veterinarian. “ Any one mosquito could potentially be infected with West Nile virus.”

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