An adult male is El Paso County’s first confirmed human case of West Nile virus this year, according to El Paso County Public Health.
West Nile virus has an incubation period of between 2 and 14 days. Most people (70 to 80-percent) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop fever with flu-like symptoms. Less than 1-percent of people who are infected will develop more serious illness, including Meningitis and Encephalitis. West Nile virus can affect any age group. People who experience severe headaches or confusion should seek medical attention immediately.
Mosquito activity can vary depending on weather patterns, but typically peaks in the summer months and begins to decline in the fall. Mosquitoes typically change their feeding habits this time of year from a blood meal to nectar; therefore current risk levels for West Nile virus transmission are low.
Dr. Bill Letson, El Paso County Public Health’s Medical Director, says the best way to “fight the bite” is to remember the 5 D’s:
- When involved in outdoor activities at DUSK and DAWN greater precautions need to be taken because mosquitoes are most active during these times.
- Wear insect repellant with DEET.
- DRESS in pants and long sleeves outdoors when possible.
- DRAIN standing water outside in flower pots, birdbaths, rain gutters, tires, wheelbarrows, pools and the like. This is especially important due to the recent heavy rains.
Additionally, treat standing water such as small ponds and livestock tanks with microbial larvicide doughnuts, which can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores.
West Nile virus was first detected in El Paso County in 2002; the first human cases were reported in 2003. El Paso County had one reported human case in 2012. For more information, visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org.