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Maricopa County Records 1st West Nile Death Of 2017

Maricopa County has reported its first West Nile death of the season. The county has already seen 19 cases of the mosquito-borne virus this year.

Rebecca Sunenshine, the medical director with disease control at Maricopa County Public Health, said everyone should protect themselves from mosquitos. Ideally, that includes wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants outside, though knows that’s not always practical.

“If you choose not to, mosquito repellent is very effective, and you can put that on your skin and on your exposed clothing. DEET is one of the ones that works well,” she said. “And as long as you’re wearing that when you’re outdoors, you’re doing the best that you can to protect yourself against mosquito-borne diseases.”

Sunenshine said it’s also important to remove standing water from around your home. The person who died was an older adult — the group most at risk for serious complications from West Nile. But Sunenshine said even young, healthy people are susceptible to the disease.

“People of all ages have died from West Nile virus disease, so although individuals over 50 are at a higher risk, anybody can be affected by West Nile virus disease,” she said. “So it’s important for everyone to protect themselves against mosquitos.

Last year, five people died from the virus in Maricopa County.

When senior field correspondent Stina Sieg was 22, she moved to the desert. She hasn’t been the same since. At the time, the Northern California native had just graduated from college and was hankering for wide-open spaces. So she took a leap and wrote to nearly every newspaper in New Mexico until one offered her a job. That’s how she became the photographer for a daily paper in the small town of Silver City. And that’s when she realized how much she loved storytelling. In the years since, the beauty of having people open up and share their stories — and trust her to tell them — has never gotten old to Sieg. Before coming to KJZZ, Sieg was also a writer and photographer at newspapers in Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Moab, Utah; and the Smoky Mountains town of Waynesville, North Carolina. She always had her hand in public radio, too, including hosting Morning Edition on a fill-in basis at WNCW in North Carolina. It’s still the best music station she’s found. When she’s not reporting, chances are Sieg is running, baking, knitting or driving to some far-flung town deep in the desert — just to see what it looks like.