Boulder County confirms first human West Nile virus case of the year
August 18, 2017
Boulder County Public Health has confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in the county for the 2017 mosquito season.
A 33-year-old Lafayette man who reported having several mosquito bites on his legs was hospitalized for a week in early August and is now recovering at home.
The man reported a fever, vomiting, neck pain, muscle weakness, and tremors on the right side of his body when he was hospitalized. The man was diagnosed with viral meningitis and lab tests later showed that he had contracted West Nile virus. It’s unclear where the man was when he was bitten.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle recently said that he tested positive for the virus while donating blood. He had shown no symptoms of the virus.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms typically include fever, extreme fatigue, headache and body aches, but can occasionally also include skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes. Symptoms generally appear 3-14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Although most West Nile infections are mild, serious infections can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and/or meningitis (inflammation of the brain’s lining), loss of vision, paralysis, coma, tremors, convulsions, and death.
There is no treatment, cure, or human vaccination for West Nile virus, but health care providers can treat symptoms to help patients feel better and possibly recover more quickly. Anyone who experiences the symptoms of West Nile virus should contact their health care provider immediately.
Boulder County Public Health officials urge residents to remember the 4Ds to protect themselves from mosquito bites and West Nile virus:
1. Use DEET-enhanced insect repellent or alternative including Bite Blocker, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.
2. DRESS in long sleeves and pants.
3. Avoid the outdoors from DUSK until DAWN.
4. DRAIN standing water outside your home.
“Taking preventive measures is the best thing you can do to avoid mosquito bites and reduce the likelihood of contracting West Nile,” said Boulder County Public Health Environmental Health Specialist Marshall Lipps. “We’ve had some rain in the area recently, so it’s especially important to drain areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed.”
There were 23 human cases of West Nile virus reported in Boulder County in 2016. Two of those cases resulted in fatalities. Seven mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile so far in 2017.
In Colorado, most West Nile virus cases are diagnosed in August and September, but cases can be identified as early as May and as late as December. Generally, the mosquito season extends from late April until mid-October, with the end usually signaled by the first freeze in the fall.
For more information about West Nile virus, mosquito activity in Boulder County, or proactive steps to take, visit BoulderCountyMosquito.net.