EL PASO, Texas -

A batch of mosquitoes recently trapped in East El Paso tested positive for the West Nile Virus, the City of El Paso Environmental Services Department announced today.

The mosquito samples were collected on July 20 in the 79936 Zip Code area. The samples are the first to test positive for the West Nile Virus in El Paso County this year. Last year, a total of five mosquito batches tested positive for the virus.

"Environmental Services has confirmed West Nile Virus in mosquitoes collected within El Paso County ," said Michael Hill, City of El Paso Department of Public Health director. "The finding should serve as a reminder to our residents to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases."

To avoid possible infection from mosquito bites, Hill recommends, avoiding outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. If you must be outdoors, use insect repellent and follow the label directions, and be sure to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, shoes and socks.

West Nile Virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito; mosquitoes can become infected by biting a bird that carries the virus. The virus is not spread through person-to-person contact, or directly from birds to humans.

In most cases, people who are infected with West Nile Virus never become sick, or have only mild symptoms, though an infection can lead to severe illness. Symptoms of a West Nile Virus infection are flu-like and include; fever, headache, body aches, and in some cases skin rash and swollen lymph glands.

If you suspect you have been infected with West Nile you should seek medical assistance.

In response to the test results, Environmental Services through its vector control program has aggressively re-treated the neighborhood where the mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile were collected.

Vector control fogs neighborhoods countywide. It also aggressively treats areas throughout the city and county where mosquitoes are likely to breed, such as reservoirs, culverts and ditches.

To prevent mosquito bites and mosquito breeding, citizens should: -Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, which is when mosquitoes are most active. -Cover up with shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts if you plan to be outdoors, especially during the periods when mosquitoes are most active. -Use mosquito repellant containing DEET on exposed skin and spray clothing with repellent since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Remember to always follow label directions when using insect repellents. -Eliminate stagnant water from containers around your property, such as flower pots. -Frequently change the water in birdbaths, pet water bowls and wading pools. Mosquitoes use water-holding containers to lay their eggs. - Repair holes on window and door screens. Remember to make sure door seals are secure. -Do not over-irrigate your farmland or property as this allows water to stagnate and mosquitoes to breed.

To report mosquito breeding sites the public should call 599-6290.