New Mexico woman diagnosed with West Nile virus in state's first human case this year

A New Mexico woman has been diagnosed with West Nile virus, marking the first human case of the mosquito-borne ailment in the state this year.

The New Mexico Department of Health announced the news in a Monday press release, noting the 42-year-old Doña Ana County woman, who was not identified, was hospitalized due to the disease but is recovering.

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“In New Mexico, we’ve had cases of West Nile virus every year since the virus migrated to New Mexico in 2003,” health officials said. "Mosquito populations tend to rise all over the state of New Mexico following the increased precipitation originating from the monsoon rains.”

First reported in the U.S. in 1999, West Nile is a virus that’s typically spread by infected mosquitoes. Though the side effects of the virus can be severe, most people who are infected experience little to no symptoms and fully recover.

That said, a small percentage of people — roughly 1 in 5 — develop a fever and may also experience headaches, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash, among other signs of the virus, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Even rarer, about 1 in 150 people who are infected with West Nile virus can develop a serious illness  — such as inflammation of the spinal cord or brain, the CDC added.

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There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment to treat or prevent the virus.

West Nile virus can be avoided by emptying birdbaths and wading pools, as standing water can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Using certain mosquito repellents, as well as wearing long-sleeved pants and shirts while outside, are also ways to prevent mosquito bites.

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