WELD COUNTY, Colo. — A 53-year-old Weld County resident has died from West Nile virus – the first death from the virus this year in Colorado, the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment said on Friday.
The resident was hospitalized and died from neuroinvasive West Nile virus, according to the health department.
As of Friday, Colorado has seen 12 confirmed cases of West Nile virus in eight counties so far this year. Three people have required hospitalization, and two people have had neurologic symptoms, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
Weld and Larimer counties have had three cases each, while six more counties have had one case each: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Delta, El Paso and La Plata, according to CDPHE data. The state health department said that's more cases than the state would typically see at this time of year.
Testing of mosquitoes this year has found the virus in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Delta, Denver, Larimer, Pueblo and Weld counties.
“The trends we are seeing in our West Nile virus tracking data are unprecedented,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, in a news release. “The number of West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes we've detected this season is the highest we've seen in years. This is especially concerning now that August is here and September is just around the corner, as this is usually when human cases peak in Colorado."
West Nile virus is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes. The abundance of mosquitoes this season is likely due to the unusually rainy spring and summer, CDPHE said.
Most people infected with the virus don't get sick, but for those who do, symptoms can appear in between two and 14 days. Infections begin with a high fever and headache and may progress to a stiff neck, disorientation, tremors and coma. People older than 60 and those with certain medical conditions are at greater risk of serious illness, CDPHE said.
People can protect themselves by:
- Using insect repellents when outdoors
- Wearing protective closing including long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks
- Mosquito-proofing the home by draining standing water around the house and installing or repairing screens on windows and doors.
For all of 2022, there were 206 cases and 20 deaths from West Nile virus statewide.
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