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Pagosa Springs
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

West Nile virus detected in Colorado mosquitoes

Colorado Department of
Public Health and Environment

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is reporting West Nile virus in mosquitoes in Colorado for the first time this season. The mosquitoes were collected in Weld County. West Nile virus is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Weekly mosquito testing for West Nile virus began in Colorado last month. Counties or municipalities trap adult mosquitoes, and labs test them, providing an estimate of the number that are infected with the virus. The results help determine risk to humans in the area. Not all counties and municipalities test mosquitoes, so it’s important for all Coloradans to take steps to protect themselves throughout the summer.

“When the virus is present, people are at risk, but there are simple precautions people can take to protect themselves,” said Jennifer House, deputy state epidemiologist. “Use an effective insect repellent, wear protective clothing or stay indoors when mosquitoes are active, and mosquito-proof your home.” 

In Colorado, most human West Nile virus cases are reported in August and September.

In 2020, Colorado had 35 reported human cases of West Nile virus, including one death.

Most people infected with West Nile virus don’t have symptoms. About 20 percent of infected people will have flu-like symptoms, and fewer than 1 percent develop a serious, potentially deadly illness. People over age 60 and those with certain medical conditions are at greater risk of serious illness. See a health care provider if you develop severe headaches or confusion.

To protect yourself:

• 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.

To mosquito-proof your home:

• Drain standing water around your house at least once every week. Empty water from tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged gutters, rain barrels, birdbaths, toys and puddles.

• Install or repair screens on windows and doors.

For more information, visit the the CDPHE’s West Nile virus Web page at: https://cdphe.colorado.gov/animal-related-diseases/west-nile-virus.

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