While Coloradans are being asked to take precautions against the coronavirus, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is asking the community to take precautions against something else as well — mosquitos.
On Aug. 14, the department announced the first human case of the West Nile virus was reported in Colorado this year. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment learned of the case on Aug. 12, and the resident who has the West Nile virus lives in Delta County. The virus is commonly spread to humans when they are bit by an infected mosquito.
Earlier this summer, the state began capturing adult mosquitoes and testing them in laboratory settings to determine if they are infected with the West Nile virus. According to a release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, West Nile virus-positive mosquitoes have been found in Larimer County, Delta County and Weld Counties. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment noted that not all counties and municipal cities test mosquitoes. Therefore, the department says it’s important for Coloradans to take steps to protect themselves from the virus this year.
“When the virus is present, people are at risk, but there are simple precautions people can take to protect themselves. Use an effective insect repellent, wear protective clothing, or stay indoors when mosquitoes are active, and mosquito-proof your home,” said Jennifer House, state public health veterinarian in the release.
Last year, Colorado had 122 reported human cases of West Nile virus, and eight people died from it. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says most West Nile virus cases are reported this month and in September.
Twenty percent of people who are infected with the virus experience flu-like symptoms and less than 1 percent develop a serious deadly injury, the release says. Most people who have the virus don’t display symptoms. If you are over 60 and have certain medical conditions, you are at greater risk of developing serious symptoms from the West Nile virus. Among symptoms some have reported that have been infected with the virus include severe headaches or confusion. If you experience those symptoms, call your health care provider.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment offered the following tips to protect yourself from the West Nile virus:
1. Use insect repellents when you go outside.
2. Limit outdoor activities when it is dusk and dawn.
3. Wear clothing like long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks when you are in areas where mosquitoes are active.
4. Install screens on windows and doors.
5. Empty standing water from your home such as tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged gutters and other areas.