With the summer monsoon season, the mosquitos and West Nile virus return to Cave Creek. Decades ago, it seemed that mosquitos in the Valley were all but unheard of. These days the mosquitos rally in force after the rains, and are notorious for attacking around the ankles and calves.
Make no mistake, these mosquitos are more than just a mere nuisance, but rather potential bearers of disease and misery. West Nile virus (WNV) is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites. WNV is found on every continent except Antarctica. It was first detected in North America in 1999, and has since spread across the continental United States and Canada and has become well established. Maricopa County had its first WNV outbreak in 2004.
WNV is spread to people primarily through the bite of infected Culex species mosquitoes. Culex mosquitoes are found in Maricopa County and other parts of Arizona and Cave Creek does have mosquitoes infected with WNV. These mosquitoes generally bite from evening to early morning so it is important to protect against mosquito bites whenever you are outside.
There is no specific medicine or vaccine available for WNV infection. A doctor may recommend rest, fluids, and use of over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce fever and relieve some symptoms. Symptoms are said to mimic those of a severe flu or fever, though generally without the nausea. Reports indicate that less than 1% of persons who are infected with the West Nile virus develop severe illness; of individuals who have severe illness secondary to the infection, 3-15% die.
Residents can help reduce mosquito presence by ensuring that they have no stagnant or sitting water anywhere on their property. Spare tires, empty buckets and old flower pots are all prime breeding grounds for the pests.