On Monday, Aug. 30, Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) was notified that a Commerce City resident tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). The individual experienced WNV fever, which generally includes a fever and other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. The individual has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home. This case follows reports of WNV-infected mosquitoes in Adams and Arapahoe counties and three infected horses in Adams County over the past two weeks.
West Nile virus is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes then spread West Nile virus to people and other animals by biting them.
While most people who become infected with WNV fully recover, about 1 in 150 people develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system. Complications from severe illness can include encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord), and in rare cases, death.
“We completely understand that the last thing anyone wants to do is worry about another virus,” said Brian Hlavacek, Tri-County Health Department environmental health director. “Fortunately, there are simple steps we can all take to reduce the chances of getting infected with West Nile virus.”
The best protection against West Nile virus is to follow the Four Ds:
- Drain: Eliminate any standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including in bird baths, flower pots, and yard art etc.
- Dusk and Dawn: Avoid spending time outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
- Defend: Use products containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products. Follow the label instructions. Non-DEET containing repellents work, but should be applied more frequently.
- Dress: Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and shoes and socks if you need to be outdoors between dusk and dawn
The first human case of WNV in Colorado this season was reported on Aug. 13. To date, 15 people in the state have tested positive for the virus; seven required hospitalization. So far this season, WNV has been found in 11 Colorado counties, including Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Jefferson, Larimer, and Weld counties in the Front Range.
# # #
Tri-County Health Department serves over 1.5 million people in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. It provides over 60 programs and services including birth certificates, immunizations, WIC, restaurant inspections, family planning, STI/HIV Testing, and infectious disease investigations. For more information, visit www.tchd.org Twitter @TCHDHealth or Facebook @cotchd.