Montrose, CO— Montrose County Public Health confirmed its first death of West Nile Virus this year. The person was in their 50s and had underlying medical conditions. It is believed that this person contracted West Nile Virus in the county earlier in August. Currently, the county has eight West Nile Virus cases; however the severity of these cases has been significantly worse this year. West Nile Virus is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. In 2021, Montrose County reported 12 cases of West Nile Virus.
“Montrose County Public Health is urging individuals to protect themselves from West Nile Virus—five of the eight patients who have had West Nile Virus have been hospitalized—that is a concerning number," said Montrose County Communicable Disease Coordinator Lisa Gallegos.
"Several of the patients this year have developed additional conditions such as encephalitis and/or meningitis as a result of West Nile Virus," said Montrose County Public Health Medical Advisor Dr. Joe Adragna, MD, MHA, MGA. "West Nile Virus can cause long-term complications in the young and elderly. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Use of screens, long sleeves and pants, DEET based repellent, and avoiding peak times like the cool morning or evening can help reduce your risk."
Most people infected with West Nile virus don’t have symptoms. About 20% of infected people will have flu-like symptoms, and fewer than 1% develop a serious, potentially deadly illness. People over age 60 and those with certain medical conditions are at greater risk of serious illness. See a health care provider if you develop severe headaches or confusion.
Due to the cases reported last year, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Montrose County Public Health urge community members to protect themselves. Stated below are precautions to take this summer while outside and in areas where mosquitos are active.
To protect yourself:
- 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.
To mosquito-proof your home:
- Drain standing water around your house at least once every week. Empty water from tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged gutters, rain barrels, birdbaths, toys, and puddles.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors.
- Replace outdoor lights with yellow “bug lights”. These attract fewer mosquitos. These do not repel mosquitos, just limit the amount.
- For more information, visit the department’s West Nile virus web page.