The Pueblo City-County Health Department has confirmed the area's first human case of West Nile Virus this season.
“The first human case of West Nile virus is confirmed in our community,” stated Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods, public health director of the Pueblo City-County Health Department. She added, “It is very important every individual take precaution to avoid the West Nile virus illness.”
West Nile virus develops in the human body within 5-14 days after a bite from an infected mosquito. All forms of West Nile virus can be serious including fever, meningitis and encephalitis, and have potential for causing long-term illness and disability. West Nile virus can affect any age group.
Symptoms of West Nile virus may include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle weakness, rash, stiff neck or changed mental state. Some infected persons experience a feeling of extreme tiredness and weakness for several weeks. Promptly seek medical attention from a physician if you have any of these symptoms.
With the recent rainfall and the high water levels on the rivers in Pueblo County the mosquito population will potentially increase, however the risk of being infected by West Nile virus is considerably lower this late in the mosquito season. Even with a lowered risk of West Nile virus there is still a possibility of contracting the virus as low levels of WNV activity in Colorado commonly continue through September and into October.
Dr. Nevin-Woods advised all individuals to protect themselves from West Nile virus by following the Four D’s:
· DRAIN: Eliminate standing water in tires or similar water-holding containers as these may serve as mosquito breeding sites. Change the water in birdbaths, empty tires or flower pots, at least weekly.
· DUSK AND DAWN: Avoid outdoor activities, such as gardening, at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
· DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are effective ingredients to look for in insect repellents. Always follow label instructions for application.
· DRESS: If outside during the periods when mosquitoes are most active, cover up by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes and socks.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found at FightTheBiteColorado.com.