Larimer County Sees an Increase in West Nile Virus-Related Hospitalizations

It's that time of year again. The mosquitos are out for blood! Photo courtesy of fox43.com.

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) is seeing an elevated number of human West Nile virus-related hospitalizations in Larimer county this year. The Health Department advises residents to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

West Nile disease is a viral infection that is spread to people through bites from infected Culex mosquitoes. The symptoms of West Nile disease can vary widely, from no symptoms to severe illness, and generally appear between 3-14 days after infection. The most common symptoms include fever, nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness and aches, rash, and headaches.

The number of Culex mosquitoes being trapped is increasing week to week in some areas of the county. Currently, there are eight reported human WNV cases in Larimer County – 2 from Loveland, 2 from Berthoud, 2 from Windsor, 1 from Fort Collins, and 1 from unincorporated Larimer County. Out of the eight cases, five have been hospitalized. In comparison, 11 cases and only 1 hospitalization were reported at this time in the county in 2021.

Erika Cathey, MPH, Communicable Disease Manager with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment hopes residents will take steps to prevent mosquito bites. “Culex mosquitoes are the most active between dusk and dawn, so preventing bites during this time is essential to protecting yourself and your family from the virus. With the persistent hot weather this summer, mosquitoes are very abundant throughout the county,” says Cathey.

Mosquito sampling to monitor for West Nile virus risk began the first week in June in Larimer County. The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment continues to closely monitor West Nile virus prevalence in the community through partnerships with towns and cities, a mosquito abatement company (Vector Disease Control International), and Colorado State University to assess the risk to Larimer County residents.

West Nile virus is preventable. In addition to community mitigation efforts, such as larviciding and spraying for mosquitoes, individuals can practice the 4 D’s to help prevent West Nile virus disease:

  • Defend – Use DEET or another effective EPA-registered mosquito repellent that has been proven to be effective against West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes. DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (also called p-menthane-3,8-diol or PMD), and IR3535 are effective choices.

  • Dusk to Dawn – Avoid exposure during peak Culex mosquito feeding times, from dusk through dawn.

  • Dress – Wear long sleeves and pants to keep mosquitoes from biting.

  • Drain – Remove standing water in your yard or garden to minimize mosquito breeding areas.

For more tips on what you can do to prevent West Nile virus, visit www.larimer.gov/westnile.

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