DENVER (CBS4) – The first human case of West Nile virus in Colorado has been reported by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Wednesday.
Research shows the West Nile virus is currently circulating in mosquitoes around the state.
Health officials warn people to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites between dusk and dawn when infected mosquitoes typically feed, especially this holiday weekend when many people will be outdoors.
“It’s time to pack the mosquito repellent when heading out for fireworks, camping or any outdoor activities during evening hours,” John Pape, state epidemiologist in charge of West Nile virus surveillance, said in a statement. “The threat of West Nile virus doesn’t mean you have to avoid activities you enjoy, but it is important to take a few simple steps to avoid mosquito bites”.
The human case happened in Delta County. The person became sick with West Nile fever, a less severe form of the disease, 11 days after getting bit by mosquitos at an outdoor event that was held in the evening.
“We know that for most people infection with West Nile virus usually results in a mild illness from which patients recover,” said Pape, “But for some people, it is a life-altering or life-threatening illness.”
Pape reminds people of the “Four D” precautions to take against West Nile virus:
- Drain standing water around the house weekly since that’s where mosquitoes lay eggs. Be sure to empty old tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels and toys where puddles can occur.
- Dusk and dawn are when mosquitoes that carry the virus are most active, so limit outdoor activities or take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
- DEET is an effective ingredient to look for in insect repellents. Always follow label instructions carefully.
- Dress in light-weight long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk or in areas where mosquitoes are active.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and local public health agencies maintain a website with additional information about West Nile virus at FightTheBiteColorado.com.