Tribal Health Department is monitoring the presence of West Nile virus

Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News



With monsoon season approaching, the Environmental Health Services program has identified mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus in the Community. 


EHS has been monitoring the presence of West Nile virus in District 1, 2, 4, 5 and 7, and will continue to monitor other areas of the Community for mosquitoes with the virus.  Recently, EHS has put out a mosquito surveillance alert notice, urging Community members to take precautions to prevent the contraction of the virus. 


EHS has been using a variety of pesticide applications in order to prevent the spread of mosquitoes around bodies of water like lagoons, or other areas where there is standing water. 


Depending on the setting, EHS will either conduct fogging or granular pesticides, which can include small fish to eat the mosquito larvae in areas where permitted. 


“We have 12 mosquito traps throughout the Community in each of the districts, where we can test those mosquitoes for West Nile virus,” said Tacy Jensen EHS Environmental Health Specialist. 


She said the Community can test mosquitoes for WNV collected from each of the surveillance sites and pinpoint where the virus is highly present. Jensen said they work closely with their counterparts in Maricopa and Pinal County, who serve as a resource on WNV. 


Health officials advise to wear long-sleeve clothing and trim tall grass and the removal of standing water in buckets, pools and other inanimate objects. The removal of standing water prevents the reproduction of mosquitoes, which they use as breeding areas. 


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of West Nile virus are high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation and other severe paralysis. Not all of these symptoms are experienced, but can vary depending on an individual’s health condition and age. 


The CDC states, people who are at higher risk for the virus are individuals over 60-years-old and certain medical conditions, in people with compromised immune systems. Although there have been few cases of death resulting from contracting West Nile virus, it is important, to get checked by your local healthcare provide, if you are experiencing symptoms from the virus. 


Symptoms of the virus can range from two to 14 days from the time a person is bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus. Additionally, the CDC states 1 in 5 people develop a light fever and 1 out of 150 people develop severe symptoms of West Nile virus. 


Other preventive measures include, using insect repellent, like DEET, closing windows, doors and having screens for them in good repair. If Community members have concerns about the West Nile virus and mosquitoes, they can contact EHS at (520) 562-5100.