Montrose, CO— Over the weekend, Montrose County Public Health confirmed its second and third deaths of people from West Nile virus complications. Montrose County's West Nile virus cases are continuing to rise and currently account for 30% of the state's total West Nile virus cases per Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's state data. At this time, the county has 19 cases of West Nile virus, which is just one shy of the county's highest total in the past ten years. Additionally, the severity of the cases continues to be greater than previous years as West Nile virus can cause life-threatening illnesses such as encephalitis, meningitis, or meningoencephalitis.
“There has been a concerning increase in the amount of West Nile virus cases," said Montrose County Communicable Disease Coordinator Lisa Gallegos. "The increase in cases is believed to be related to the additional precipitation the area received this summer. Cases vary from people who are camping, golfing, visiting the park, or spending time in the backyards at their homes—the important thing to note is that mosquitos are present at several different places and taking precautions will help reduce your risk."
Montrose County Public Health has dunks, mosquito larvicide, available free of charge for people to start on controlling mosquito reproduction in standing or stagnant water. They are available while supplies last at Montrose County Public Health at 1845 South Townsend Avenue during business hours. Dunks are also available for purchase at local retailers.
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 increase in cases, 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 mosquitos 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.
- Use mosquito larvicide in standing water areas as possible.
- 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 state’s West Nile virus web page.