EL PASO, Texas -- The threat of mosquito-related diseases is great now that the Borderland is officially in the summer season.
According to the El Paso Department of Public Health, there are about 3,000 species of mosquitos, but there are two specifically that come to the El Paso area and can spread diseases like West Nile, Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya.
"80% of people might not even know that they have (West Nile virus), they might be asymptomatic," said Dr. Sarah Watkins, medical director of the West Texas Regional Poison Center and an emergency physician with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso. "That leaves 20% of people, or about one in five people, who get mild or maybe more moderate symptoms."
In 2020 only four people were diagnosed with West Nile virus, compared to 13 the year prior.
Those symptoms, according to Watkins, include stomach flu type of symptoms, like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, "people might get a rash or body aches."
But in some cases, it could be more serious. Some patients could be diagnosed with meningitis and for "vulnerable populations" it can be deadly, according to the health department.
"If people get confused or have seizures or any other really scary kinds of signs or symptoms, then we would want them to go to the emergency room right away," Watkins said.
The El Paso health department is asking El Pasoans to follow preventive measures to help slow the spread of mosquito-breeding.
Here are some tips to prevent getting bit by a mosquito and what do if you get bit :
- Keep your skin covered up as best as possible by wearing light, long sleeve clothing.
- Buy EPA regulated bug spray with DEET in it.
- Don't go outside during dusk or dawn, the peak hours of mosquitos
- If you get bite, use an ice pack to help ease the itch or use an over the counter topical cream
- Check for ANY standing water and drain it. The health department said mosquitos can breed in a little amount of amount, even water sitting on a bottle cap.
To report large amounts of standing water that may be used for mosquito breeding, residents can call 311.