August and September Are the Prime Times For West Nile Virus In Colorado
The threat of the West Nile Virus looms as we head into the second half of the summer season.
The Downside Of Colorado Summer
If there is a downside to summertime in Colorado it would be mosquitos. Those pesky insects are so small, but they can cause such great grief. How many times have you come home from a campout, a ball game, or a picnic, only to discover a myriad of mosquito bites all over your body? The itching that comes from mosquito bites is annoying and can be maddening. Relief oftentimes is elusive.
Most of the time, mosquito bites are harmless, but there is always the potential for a bigger problem than itching skin. When you're talking about mosquitoes, West Nile VIrus always has to be in the discussion.
Last year, 175 West Nile human cases were reported in Colorado. According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health, 112 of those cases required hospitalization, and there were 11 deaths. That was, by far, the highest number of West Nile Virus deaths since 2003 when 66 Colorado deaths were attributed to West Nile.
West Nile In Delta and Mesa Counties
Historically, Delta County has been a hot spot for West Nile Virus. In the past three years, Delta County has had 66 cases of West Nile Virus, compared to just six in Mesa County. In 2022, there have been no human cases of West Nile Virus in Colorado. So far this year, only three counties have yielded positive results from mosquito testing - Larimer, Weld, and Boulder.
There have been 42 mosquito tests in Mesa County so far this year and 8 in Delta, but no positive tests.
What Are the Symptoms of West Nile Virus?
West Nile typically begins suddenly with high fever and headaches and may include stiff neck, disorientation, and in some cases tremors and coma. Severe infections can result in permanent brain damage or death, which is most common in people over the age of 50. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for the virus, and there is no vaccine to prevent it. Symptoms can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after infection.
What Can I Do To Protect Myself?
The threat of the West Nile Virus is just one of the reasons why you should want to protect yourself from mosquitoes. Insect repellant and protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts are your best defense. To minimize the threat of West Nile around your home you should drain standing water around your house often, and empty water from tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged gutters, toys, and puddles.
157 West Nile Deaths In Colorado
Typically, most human West Nile cases are reported in August and September, so it's still a prime time for mosquito activity. Your chances of getting the virus are extremely small - but it was also a small chance for the 157 Coloradans who have died from West Nile in the last 20 years. An ounce of prevention could save your life.
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