Denver resident, 71, dies of West Nile virus; Eleventh death statewide

DENVER — A 71-year-old Denver resident has died after contracting West Nile virus, the first death in Denver and eleventh statewide so far this year.

Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) officials on Thursday confirmed the death, which they said occurred after the resident was hospitalized with complications from the disease. Earlier this week, health officials in Larimer and Boulder counties confirmed the deaths in their respective jurisdictions. Deaths have also been reported in Jefferson, La Plata, Pueblo, and Weld counties.

All 11 deaths occurred this month According to the data From the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

“We are thinking of the family during this difficult time,” said Bob McDonald, executive director of DDPHE and director of Denver Public Health. “Mosquito season has been particularly bad in Colorado, and I urge everyone to take West Nile virus seriously and take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquito bites.”

Denver health officials said they have investigated 23 cases of West Nile virus infection since the beginning of this year’s mosquito season. Statewide, there have been 103 cases of infection in West Nile so far, with just over half of the cases requiring hospitalization.

West Nile virus is endemic to Colorado, which means that anyone can contract the virus if they encounter mosquitoes in areas where they live and breed. The virus is not transmitted from person to person.

DDPHE officials said that while everyone is at risk of contracting West Nile virus, people over the age of 50, or those with compromised immune systems, are most at risk of serious illness.

How to protect yourself and your family from West Nile virus

Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, so the first line of defense against potential exposure is to avoid activities during this time, according to health experts.

As mosquito season continues, health officials recommend that you take the following steps to protect yourself and your family from West Nile virus:

  • Prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water on your property by:
    • Eliminate sources of standing water near your home by emptying, scrubbing, turning over, covering, or disposing of water-containing items such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, wheelbarrows, swimming pools, bird baths, flower pots, or trash containers all at once In the week. All this can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus
    • Check for water storage containers both indoors and outdoors
    • Avoid watering in cement or in the street, as this may lead to the formation of puddles that support mosquito larvae
    • If landscaping decisions are made, consider ways to reduce overspray (for irrigation) on streets and gutters
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks in areas where mosquitoes are active
  • Use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil, or para-menthane-diol. The EPA has a database of where You can search and find the right extruder for you.

In addition to eliminating sources of standing water around your home on a weekly basis, you can also protect your home from mosquitoes by installing or repairing screens on windows and doors.

West Nile virus: symptoms and protecting yourself

How to detect West Nile virus infection

Symptoms of West Nile virus infection appear 2 to 14 days after exposure, with 1 in 5 people developing fever, body aches, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, joint pain, weakness, and sometimes skin rash and swollen nymphal nodes.

While most people infected with West Nile virus do not develop symptoms, about 1% of those infected can develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurological disease that can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and/or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain). ), blindness, paralysis, coma, tremors, convulsions, and even death, according to DDPHE.

People over 60, those with certain medical conditions such as weakened immunity, diabetes, or fighting cancer, or those with kidney disease are most at risk of developing neurological disease, according to Dr. Daniel Pastola, an infectious disease specialist at UCLA. In health and its chief. Neuroinfectious Diseases and Global Neuroscience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Colorado School of Public Health.

People should talk to their doctors or healthcare provider if they experience any of these symptoms, especially if you have a fever with severe headache or confusion after a mosquito bite.

Denver health officials said that while there is no treatment or vaccine to protect against West Nile virus, medical professionals can treat symptoms to help patients feel better and possibly recover more quickly.

In Colorado, most cases of West Nile virus are diagnosed in August and September, but cases can be identified as early as May through late December. In general, mosquito season runs from late April through mid-October, and the end usually signals the first freeze of fall.

Last year, Colorado reported 206 human cases of West Nile virus, including 20 deaths.

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