A second and more serious form of the virus, known as neuroinvasive West Nile Virus, can invade the central nervous system and may prove fatal. Symptoms for the neuroinvasive virus can include headaches and other flu-like symptoms, but Spak said a fever higher than 102 degrees and a sense of confusion or disorientation are key signs of the more serious strain of the virus and victims should seek immediate medical attention.

He advises homeowners, especially rural residents who own or stable horses, to take prevention measures designed to limit mosquito production. Standing water should be eliminated around houses and barns and standing ponds of water not used by livestock should be treated. He further advises avoiding early morning and early evening excursions outdoors when mosquitoes are most active and says wearing long pants and shirt sleeves can decrease the chances of exposure. He also advises using a repellant that contains Deet.


Health concern officials also are concerned over the report of six school children at an Albuquerque middle school being treated for rabies exposure after playing with a bat that was determined to be rabid after a teacher submitted the animal for testing.

Public health officials say the students did not exhibit bite marks but because the animal has such small teeth, a scratch or puncture may go undetected. The students have undergone the first series of vaccination for rabies exposure and must continue treatment as a precaution.

School officials sent warnings home to parents this week over concerns that other students may have handled the rabid bat. Rabies is a disease that if not detected early after exposure will result in death.

New Mexico was plagued by a rash of rabid animal cases last year but an aggressive anti-rabies program has helped diminish the risk so far this year. Officials are warning parents to instruct their children to avoid contact with wildlife and even unknown domestic animals.


Also of interest on Southwest Farm Press:

Opposition to mosquito control misguided

Rabies Outbreak in New Mexico threatens livestock

Fox rabies may be back in Central Texas after cow tested positive