Officials report Jefferson County’s first 2023 human case of West Nile

Jefferson County reported its first West Nile virus case of 2023, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced Tuesday, just four days after officials the state’s first death from the virus this year.

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According to a Tuesday news release from Jefferson County’s Public Health Department, the virus has been found in mosquitoes in at least seven counties across the state this season.

As of Friday afternoon, Colorado health officials had documented 12 cases of the mosquito-borne virus and three hospitalizations from the virus so far in 2023, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Larimer and Weld county officials had documented three cases each, while Boulder, Adams, Arapahoe, El Paso, Delta and La Plata counties had each documented one case. Weld County reported Colorado’s first 2023 death related to West Nile.

Mosquito populations are at historically high levels in some parts of the state due to high rainfall this year, the release stated. The unusually high mosquito activity, paired with the known presence of the virus in Colorado, poses an elevated risk of humans contracting the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado had the most West Nile cases in the country last year with 204 cases and 18 deaths from the virus. In 2021, Colorado had the second most cases of any state.

While most people infected with the virus don’t get sick, symptoms for those who do appear between two and 14 days after infection, including fever, headaches, body aches, skin rashes and swollen lymph glands, according to the CDC.

About one in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness or life-threatening symptoms, and less than 1% of people with West Nile cases die.

In Tuesday’s release, health officials advised residents to drain standing water weekly, limit outdoor activities around dusk and dawn, dress in long sleeves and pants in areas where mosquitoes are active and use DEET-based insect repellents.

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