DENVER – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has received its first confirmed case of West Nile virus in 2010.
Heading into the holiday weekend, health department officials advise people to take precautions against West Nile virus by wearing insect repellent and using other methods to avoid mosquito bites when outdoors.
Elisabeth Lawaczeck, state public health veterinarian, explained, “Although we can’t predict how severe the West Nile virus season will be this year, we do know that we will see virus activity statewide.”
Reports this week of a human case in Weld County indicate that West Nile season has arrived.
West Nile Virus is carried by certain birds and transmitted to people by bites from mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds. Female Culex mosquitoes, the species that carries the virus, usually start emerging in late April or early May.
Lawaczeck said, “Each season this virus will be present and circulating around the state. The severity of the season will depend on the weather.”
Studies show that cool, wet weather in early spring followed by very hot temperatures throughout the summer could result in a bad year for mosquitoes.
Lawaczeck said, “The good news is that West Nile virus is preventable, and now is the time to take precautions against the disease.”
Additional precautions to take against West Nile virus include:
- DRAIN standing water around the house weekly since it’s where mosquitoes lay eggs, including: tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, toys and puddles.
- DUSK & DAWN are when mosquitoes that carry the virus are most active, so limit outdoor activities or take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
- DEET is an effective ingredient to look for in insect repellents. Always follow label instructions carefully.
- DRESS in long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk or in areas where mosquitoes are active.
The Department of Public Health and Environment and local public health agencies maintain a Website containing additional information about West Nile virus at www.FightTheBiteColorado.com .