West Nile Virus, or The Problem With Mosquitoes


“Mosquitoes remind us that we are not as high up on the food chain as we think.”

–Tom Wilson (American actor, writer and comedian)

So far in Texas this summer, only 2 human cases of West Nile Virus has been reported.  However, the period when most people get infected is from July-September. Please keep in mind the following facts:

What is West Nile Virus (WNV)?

  • WNV is a virus most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes
  • WNV can cause febrile illness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord)

How do humans get infected?

  • Most people get infected with West Nile virus by the bite of an infected mosquito
  • Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds
  • Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals
  • Rarely, it can be spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding

What are the symptoms?

  • No symptoms in most people. Most people (70-80%) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms and will never have any problems.
  • Fever in some people. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
  • Severe symptoms in a few people. Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.


What can you do to protect yourselves and your children against WNV?

The most effective way to avoid West Nile virus disease is to prevent mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants from dusk through dawn when many mosquitoes are most active.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors. If you have it, use your air conditioning.
  • Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home. Empty standing water from containers such as flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths.


For more info, go to http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html





Flash Floods


Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream……

Summer in El Paso can get very hot and then suddenly we can get several days of nonstop downpour.  These conditions make it very likely that we will have flash flooding, especially as the “monsoon” season of late July and August begins. A flash flood is when the roads suddenly turn into racing streams that can carry people and vehicles away.

How can you keep yourself and your children safe in flash flood conditions?

First of all, listen for local weather advisories on the radio or TV that will issue either a flash flood watch or a flash flood warning.

The National Weather Service will issue a Flash Flood Watch when heavy rains may result in flash flooding in a specific area. In this case you should be alert and prepare for the possibility of a flood emergency which will require immediate action.

Flash Flood Warning will be issued when flash flooding is occurring or is about to occur in a specified area. If your area is placed under a warning, you should move to safe ground immediately.

Flash Flooding usually occurs within 6 hours of a heavy rain event.


  1. Post emergency numbers near every home phone and program the numbers into cell phones.
  2. In hilly terrain, flash floods can strike with little or no advance warning. Distant rain may be channeled into gullies and ravines, turning a quiet stream into a rampaging torrent in minutes. Never camp on low ground next to streams since a flash flood can catch you while you’re asleep.
  3. Do not cross flowing stream on foot where water is above your ankles.
  4. If you are driving, don’t try to cross water-filled areas of unknown depths. If your vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and go to higher ground. Rapidly rising water may sweep the vehicle and its occupants away. Many deaths have been caused by attempts to move stalled vehicles.
  5. Be especially cautious at night. It’s harder to recognize water danger then.
  6. Don’t try to outrace a flood on foot. If you see or hear it coming, move to higher ground immediately.
  7. Be familiar with the land features where you live, work, and play. It may be in a low area, near a drainage ditch or small stream, or below a dam. Be prepared!
  8. Stay tuned to local weather reports for the latest statements, watches and warnings concerning heavy rain and flash flooding in your area, report it to the National Weather Service.

After the rain is over and it is possible to walk/drive around, make sure your children:

  • do not play in dirty water—many infections occur after flash floods
  • do not walk around without shoes
  • do not play with stray or injured animals—they may bite or be very sick
  • are protected with bug spray since mosquito season is also at same time as flash floods