MESA COUNTY, Colo. – The first case of the West Nile virus has been reported in Mesa County, according local health department authorities, bringing the total counties affected by the virus to five.
An epidemiologist for the Mesa County Public Health Department told KJCT-TV a pool of infected mosquitoes was found in the area last week, but would not elaborate further as the samples came from five different locations.
Last week, the virus was detected in a pool of mosquitoes in Boulder County after a trap was set in the northern portion of the Waneka Reservoir near Waneka Lake Park in Lafayette.
On July 19, the City of Fort Collins reported a pool of mosquitos had tested positive for the virus, making it the second case in Larimer County.
Mosquitoes had previously tested positive for West Nile in Berthoud in late June.
West Nile also was found in mosquitoes in Weld County and the first confirmed human case of the virus this year was reported in Jefferson County.
No other confirmed human cases have been reported elsewhere, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Colorado saw a total of 149 human cases of the virus last year, eight of which were fatal.
West Nile virus is generally spread by mosquitoes. Humans who become infected with the virus typically don’t show symptoms, but the very young, very old and people with certain medical conditions that affect their immune response can be at higher risk of getting sick.
Symptoms may show up suddenly, with a high fever and headache. In rare cases, the virus can lead to a brain infection like encephalitis or meningitis. There is no vaccine for West Nile and there’s no treatment beyond alleviating symptoms.
The best way to protect yourself from West Nile is to prevent mosquito bites. State health officials recommend taking the following precautions:
- 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.
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.
For more information on West Nile virus, log on to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website.