A 53-year-old Adams County died Aug. 27 from West Nile virus, reported the Tri-County Health Department last week.
“This is the first confirmed death in the metro Denver area in 2013,” said Gary Sky, public information officer with Tri-County in an email. “The first Colorado West Nile virus death this year occurred in Weld County, on Aug. 25. As of Sept. 2, there have been 96 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Colorado.”
West Nile is a disease that can cause encephalitis, a brain inflammation, paralysis and meningitis and is spread by mosquitoes.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 1 percent of infected people develop serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.
Tom Butts, acting executive director of Tri-County said that mosquito activity will subside when the weather turns cold, but recent rains and hot weather have increased the number of breeding mosquitoes in the area.
“West Nile virus is preventable by protecting yourself against mosquito bites,” he said.
“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. The vast majority of people who get West Nile virus are bitten by infected mosquitoes around their own home, not while on an outdoor adventure.”
Tri-County Health Department offered the following tips for mosquito precaution: drain all standing water around the house to eliminate any mosquito-breeding sites - this includes flowerpots and saucers, clogged rain gutters and wheelbarrows; dress in long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks; use mosquito repellents that contain DEET or picaridin while outdoors and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
Tri-County also suggests to clean out pet water bowls daily and to hose out birdbaths and wading pools weekly.
Symptoms of a severe illness, which occur 3 to 14 days after exposure, are headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, muscle weakness or convulsions.