DENVER – The state’s first case of West Nile virus for the 2023 season has been detected in La Plata County as the number of affected counties grows to seven, state health officials said Monday.
While most people infected with West Nile Virus don’t experience symptoms, some can become seriously ill and even die, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). People aged 60 years and older and those with certain medical conditions are at greater risk of serious illness, officials said.
For weeks now, the CDPHE and other experts have been warning Coloradans to protect themselves against these flying insects, as the wet and cool spring and early summer downpours led to a boom in mosquito populations.
“This unusually high mosquito activity along with known presence of the virus has caused an elevated risk of West Nile virus transmission to humans,” state health officials said in a news release Monday, adding West Nile was now present in seven counties: Arapahoe, Boulder, Delta, Denver, Larimer, Pueblo, and Weld.
Symptoms of West Nile virus infection appear 2 to 14 days after exposure, with 1 in 5 people developing fever, body aches, headache and occasionally skin rashes and swollen nymph nodes.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) says most human cases of West Nile virus are reported in August and September. To protect yourself, the agency recommends:
- Limiting activities outdoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active
- Wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks in areas where mosquitoes are active
- Using an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol
Experts also recommend eliminating sources of standing water near your home, which can become a breeding ground for the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus.
In 2022, Colorado had 206 reported human cases of West Nile virus, including 20 deaths, the CDPHE said.