DENVER – The first human case of the West Nile Virus for the 2022 season in Colorado has been detected in Delta County, state health officials said Friday.
Most human cases of the West Nile Virus are reported in August of September, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) officials say, and already mosquito traps have come back positive for the virus in Boulder, Larimer, and Weld counties so far this season.
The virus – most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito – is usually reported among humans between August and September. Last year, the first cases of the virus were reported among four people in Aug. 13. By the end of the season, 175 human cases of West Nile virus and 11 deaths had been reported.
“We urge Coloradans to protect themselves against West Nile virus,” said Dr. Natalie Marzec, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “This disease is spread primarily by mosquito bites. Coloradans can protect themselves by using effective insect repellent, wearing protective clothing that minimizes exposed skin, or staying indoors when mosquitoes are active.”
Most people infected with West Nile virus don’t have symptoms, but about 20% of cases will develop flu-like symptoms, and fewer than 1% develop a serious, potentially deadly illness, according to the CDPHE. People aged 60 years and older and those with certain medical conditions are at greater risk of serious illness. You are urged to see your health care provider if you develop severe headaches or begin experiencing confusion.
To protect yourself against the West Nile Virus, remember the 4D’s:
- Use DEET-enhanced insect repellent or alternative: Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide the best protection. Follow label instructions.
- DRESS in long sleeves and pants: Wear protective clothing (long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks) in areas where mosquitoes are active. Spray clothes with insect repellent for extra protection.
- Avoid the outdoors from DUSK until DAWN: Limit outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active.
- DRAIN standing water outside your home: Drain any standing water on your property. Mosquitoes breed in water, so items like bird baths, empty buckets, clogged gutters and kiddie pools should be drained regularly to keep mosquito populations down.
To mosquito-proof your home:
- Empty water from tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged gutters, rain barrels, birdbaths, toys, and puddles at least once every week.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors.
Colorado has had cases of the West Nile virus every year since 2002, according to the CDPHE.