DENVER – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed Friday the first human case of West Nile virus in the state this year.
Mark Salley, communications director for the state health department, told Denver7 that the affected person is from Jefferson County. Salley could not release details on the person’s condition.
Mosquitoes that carry the potentially fatal virus were first detected earlier this month in Larimer County. Health officials say the presence of infected mosquitoes will likely increase in the coming weeks, as the hot weather speeds up both mosquito and virus reproduction.
West Nile virus is most frequently transmitted in July and August. Colorado saw 149 human cases of the virus last year. Eight of those cases were fatal.
Most people who are infected with West Nile virus don’t have symptoms. About 20 percent have flu-like symptoms, and fewer than one percent develop a serious, potentially deadly illness. People over age 60 and those with certain medical conditions are at greater risk of serious illness.
State health officials offer the following tips on ways to protect yourself from the virus.
- Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide the best protection. Follow label instructions.
- Limit outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active.
- Wear protective clothing (long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks) in areas where mosquitoes are active. Spray clothes with insect repellent for extra protection.