Authorities in the Phoenix metro area are asking residents to keep their properties free of standing water sources, and to keep themselves protected from mosquito bites while outdoors. The number of West Nile virus cases has skyrocketed this year in Arizona, and the mosquitoes that spread this disease are urban-dwelling species that rely on small sources of standing water on residential properties in order to breed. Rainwater that collects in flower pot saucers, flower beds, kiddie pools, children’s toys, solo cups, aluminum cans and many other objects that are commonly found in yards attract massive amounts of disease-causing mosquitoes into neighborhoods. These water sources have ultimately been fueling the ongoing West Nile epidemic in Arizona, and therefore, removing standing water from properties can dramatically reduce the annual rate of West Nile infections and even save lives.
Last year, only eight cases of West Nile occurred in Arizona, two of which resulted in death. However, as of August 28th, 135 West Nile Cases and eight deaths have occurred in the state, making Arizona the state with the highest number of West Nile infection cases. Despite California’s significantly higher population and greater size in terms of area, that state has seen 57 West Nile cases so far this year, far fewer than in Arizona. Surprisingly, California is second to Arizona when it comes to the number of West Nile cases per state, so why has Arizona become the number one state in the nation for West Nile virus cases? According to Dr. Stefanie Schroeder, medical director for ASU Health Services, West Nile cases increase during and after the monsoon season, and the virus is spread by both birds and mosquitoes, but it is not yet known which of the two is responsible for the current epidemic. In other words, nobody knows exactly why Arizona leads the nation in West Nile infection cases this year, but keeping properties free of standing water sources will certainly reduce the rate at which these cases occur..
Do you have more mosquito bites this year than you did last year?