By Claire Ninde
San Juan Basin Public Health
The first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) infection in a La Plata County resident has been reported to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) reminds everyone to protect themselves against late-season mosquitoes.
WNV is carried by mosquitoes and can be passed on to humans through their bites. WNV cannot be spread person to person; anyone who lives in an area where WNV is present in mosquitoes can get infected. There is no treatment for the virus other than supportive care, and there is no vaccine to prevent it. The most effective way to prevent exposure to WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.
To protect yourself from WNV:
• Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide the best protection. The EPA has a tool to help you decide on the best repellent to meet your outdoor activity needs (https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you). Always follow label instructions.
• Limit outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes that carry WNV 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.
To mosquito-proof your home:
• Drain standing water around your house often. Empty water from tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged gutters, rain barrels, birdbaths, toys and puddles.
• Install or repair screens on windows and doors.
To learn more about the symptoms, treatments and other information for WNV, visit sjbpublichealth.org/communicabledisease/. Information is also available from the CDPHE at www.colorado.gov/cdphe or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.