Human case of West Nile virus in La Plata County

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By Claire Ninde
Special to The SUN
The first human case of West Nile virus in La Plata County has been reported to San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH).
SJBPH reminds people that preventing mosquito bites is the best way to avoid getting any mosquito-borne illness.
“When the virus is present, people are at risk,” said Jennifer House, state public health veterinarian. “Use an effective insect repellent, wear protective clothing or stay indoors when mosquitoes are active and mosquito-proof your home.”
Most human West Nile virus cases are reported in August and September.
SJBPH reminds residents to use the 4 Ds to protect against the West Nile virus:
• Use insect repellent containing deet.
• Drain standing water around your house.
• Be especially careful when doing outdoor activities at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
• Dress in long sleeves and pants where mosquitoes are active.
Bats
While bats play an important role in nature by pollinating plants and eating insects, bats can carry rabies, which is a fatal disease. Most bats do not have rabies, but contact with all bats should be avoided.
Bat surveillance is ongoing throughout our region, with 26 bats tested in La Plata and Archuleta counties during the spring and summer seasons. One bat has tested positive for rabies. The only way to determine if a bat has rabies is through a laboratory test.
If you have bats around your home, take steps to avoid them entering your living space. See https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management/index.html for more information on how to keep bats out of your house.
If a bat enters your home and you are not sure if the bat has been in contact with people or pets, please safely capture the bat and have it tested. See http://sjbpublichealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Zoonotic-16-x-20.pdf for information on how to safely trap a bat.
For additional questions, please contact SJBPH at 247-5702.