CENTENNIAL | Aurora-area public health officials are warning the public to avoid mosquito bites after four people in the eastern, southeastern metro area were hospitalized with West Nile virus.
Tri-County Health Department, which serves Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas Counties, said all four patients, the first reported in Colorado this year, were from the area. Three of the patients have been released. One remains hospitalized.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say more than 1,100 cases have been reported in the United States in 2012. That’s the highest number of cases reported by this time of the season since the virus was first detected in the United States in 1999.
Most people infected with West Nile virus won’t get sick, but about one in 150 people will develop a severe form of the illness. Symptoms include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.
“It’s not possible to predict how many cases we’ll see in Colorado this year, but the recent increase means that all Colorado residents should take precautions,” states Richard L. Vogt, MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department. “West Nile virus is preventable by protecting yourself against mosquito bites.” A complete statewide list of human cases and a Home and Garden mosquito prevention checklist are available on www.FightTheBiteColorado.com.
For Immediate Release: August 24, 2012
Contact: Stacy Weinberg, 720-200-1526
Tri-County Health Department Reports the First Human Cases of West Nile Virus in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties in 2012
Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) has verified West Nile virus infection in four residents of our jurisdiction of Adams (2 cases), Arapahoe (1 case), and Douglas (1 case) Counties. All four patients were hospitalized; three have been discharged home for recovery and one remains hospitalized. These are the first human West Nile Virus infections reported to TCHD this year.
Now that West Nile virus has been detected in humans in multiple counties across Colorado, TCHD is urging people to protect themselves from mosquito bites and to eliminate mosquito breeding areas around their home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 1,100 cases have been reported in the United States in 2012, which is the highest number of cases reported through the third week in August since WNV was first detected in the US in 1999. Approximately 75 percent of the cases have been reported from 5 states (Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Oklahoma) and almost half of all cases have been reported from Texas.
“It’s not possible to predict how many cases we’ll see in Colorado this year, but the recent increase means that all Colorado residents should take precautions,” states Richard L. Vogt, MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department. “West Nile virus is preventable by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. You can do this by avoiding outdoor exposure when mosquitoes are active, wearing protective clothing, and applying insect repellent whenever you are outdoors—whether in the backwoods or in your own back yard. You should also drain areas of standing water around your home to prevent mosquitoes from breeding there.” A complete statewide list of human cases and a Home and Garden mosquito prevention checklist are available on www.FightTheBiteColorado.com.
Vogt urges Colorado residents to use simple, but effective, protective measures to avoid mosquito bites. These recommended mosquito precautions include the five D’s:
- DRAIN all standing water around the house to eliminate any mosquito-breeding sites
- DRESS in long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks
- Use mosquito repellents that contain DEET or picaridin while outdoors
- Avoid outdoor activities at DUSK and DAWN when mosquitoes are most active
Mosquito breeding is not limited to ponds and streams, so eliminating even small amounts of standing water around the house weekly is a good prevention measure. Common household items that can hold enough water for mosquitoes to breed include flowerpots and saucers; clogged rain gutters; wheelbarrows; watering cans; tires and tire swings; sandbox toys; tin cans; and jars. Pet water bowls should be cleaned daily and birdbaths and wading pools should be hosed out weekly.
Most people (80%) who are infected with WNV will not become ill. People who do become ill most commonly experience a self-limiting, flu-like illness (fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph nodes). Symptoms usually appear 3 to 14 days after exposure. Signs of more severe illness may include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness or convulsions. West Nile virus can also cause paralysis, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and/or meningitis (inflammation of the brain’s lining). In some cases, WNV can be fatal. People over age 50 are more susceptible to the most severe form of disease. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention, even if they do not remember being bitten by a mosquito.
Extensive information on West Nile virus can be found on the Tri-County Health Department website at www.tchd.org, at www.FightTheBiteColorado.com or by calling the toll-free statewide InfoLine, 1-877-462-2911.
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Main website: www.fightthebitecolorado.com
Downloadable “No Mosquito” logo: www.fightthebitecolorado.com/downloadable.htm
Home and Garden checklist: www.fightthebitecolorado.com/home.pdf
Toll-free InfoLine: 1-877-462-2911