KUSA — State health officials confirm two people have tested positive for West Nile virus in Colorado. The cases, out of Weld County and Delta County, are the first reported human cases of the virus in 2018.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, weekly mosquito testing starts in June across the state. So far this year, mosquitos have tested positive for West Nile virus in Adams, Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties.
CDPHE says most humans who contract the virus, about 80 percent, will not have any symptoms. About 20 percent of people will show symptoms, which are similar to the flu. State health officials said about 1 percent of people who test positive for West Nile virus will develop a more serious, potentially deadly illness.
Last year, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle was one of the lucky ones.
“I never had a symptom, I never felt sick,” said the longtime sheriff of Boulder County. “I go to Bonfils [Blood Center] every six weeks and donate blood and did that, and got a call and they said, you’ve got West Nile!”
Because Pelle didn’t have any symptoms or sickness, his recovery was pretty simple. He just had to wait for the virus to pass before he could donate blood again.
However, he is extra careful this time of year.
“We all live in Colorado for a reason, and I like to do all kind of outdoor activities including fishing and hiking and horseback riding and golf and I’m not going to quit doing that,” he said. “But I got a can of OFF in my golf bag, and I take precautions when I need to when the mosquitos are out.”
CDPHE said there were 68 human cases of West Nile virus in 2017, and four of those were fatal.
State health officials have more information online about West Nile virus in Colorado.
CDPHE also shared the following tips to protect yourself and your home:
- Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide the best protection. Follow label instructions.
- Limit outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active.
- Wear protective clothing (long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks) in areas where mosquitoes are active. Spray clothes with insect repellent for extra protection.
- Drain standing water around your house often. Empty water from tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged gutters, rain barrels, birdbaths, toys and puddles.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors.