Montrose, COLO.— Montrose County Public Health is reporting the first case of death from West Nile virus in 2021. The deceased was a resident of Montrose County. West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Montrose County Public Health would like to encourage residents to remain vigilant with protection measures (despite the cooler temperatures) as mosquito season continues through fall.
Seven cases of West Nile virus have been reported in the county this season. In Colorado, most human West Nile virus cases are reported in August and September. Most people infected with West Nile virus don't have symptoms. About 20% of infected people will have flu-like symptoms, and fewer than one-percent develop a serious, potentially deadly illness. People over age 60 and those with medical conditions are at greater risk for serious illness. See a health care provider if you develop severe headaches or confusion.
"Even though we just entered the fall season and may be thinking about pumpkins, cooler weather, and peak colors, West Nile virus is still present in Montrose County. Please make sure to continue to wear bug repellent, stay indoors during high mosquito times, and make sure to mosquito-proof your home to help protect your loved ones," said Montrose County Emergency Preparedness and Communicable Disease Coordinator Lisa Gallegos.
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.
For more information, please visit Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's West Nile virus web page.