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Maricopa County confirms first positive West Nile virus test of year

(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

PHOENIX — Officials in Maricopa County confirmed Monday the first positive West Nile virus test in a mosquito of this year.

“Through our routine year-round surveillance of collecting and testing mosquitoes throughout the county, the West Nile virus positive mosquito sample was discovered,” Maricopa County Environmental Services Director Steven Goode said in a press release.

The positive mosquito was found in the East Valley. A more specific location was not given.

West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus that causes severe illness in about 20 percent of the people it infects. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, weakness, neck stiffness and swelling of the brain.

People 50 and older are at higher risk for severe symptoms, such as meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis or death.

John Townsend, the vector control division manager for Maricopa County Environmental Services, said the positive test is a reminder that everyone needs to do what they can to prevent mosquitoes.

“We all must make an effort to rid our homes of any standing water where mosquitoes can breed,” he said, adding that people should take steps — such as wearing long clothing when working outdoors — to protect against bites.

People who spot abnormal mosquito activity in their area are asked to contact the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department Mosquito Information & Complaints Hotline at 602-506-0700.

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