NMDOH confirms first human West Nile infections of 2023

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SANTA FE, N.M. — Officials with the New Mexico Department of Health confirmed the first two human cases of West Nile virus this year.

One person is from Lea County while the other is from Sandoval County. They were both hospitalized but are recovering.

There was also a horse in Sierra County diagnosed with the virus.

Last year, NMDOH reported the first West Nile case in September. In all, there were 11 human infections with two deaths.

The year and in 2019, the first West Nile-positive mosquitoes were reported in August. Meanwhile, in 2020, NMDOH reported the first West Nile case in May.

NMDOH recommends the following to protect yourself from West Nile virus:

  • Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when outdoors, including repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535 for use on skin and permethrin for use on clothing
  • Eliminate water-holding containers where mosquitoes lay their eggs, such as old tires
  • Regularly change the water in birdbaths, wading pools and pet water bowls
  • Make sure rain barrels are tightly screened
  • Prevent flood-irrigation water from standing for more than a few days
  • Keep windows and doors closed if they do not have screens
  • Make sure screens fit tightly and do not have holes

Common West Nile virus symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Anyone with virus symptoms is advised to see their healthcare provider. 

If you’re a horse owner, be sure to vaccinate your animal to protect them from West Nile and Western Equine Encephalitis which mosquitoes also carry.