Boulder County Public Health has confirmed that four Boulder County residents have become ill from West Nile virus (WNV). Two of the residents live in Lafayette, one lives in Boulder, and the other lives in Longmont. All four are adults and have reported symptoms of fever, headache, chills, body aches, bone/joint pain, muscle weakness, tremors, sever fatigue, and lost appetite but are recovering at home. One person experienced similar symptoms which have worsened; that resident is currently hospitalized. Each resident began experiencing symptoms in late July.
“This is a reminder to all of us that West Nile virus is still a risk,” said Carol Helwig, Boulder County Public Health Communicable Disease Control program coordinator. “We all still need to take steps to protect ourselves and our families.”
WNV is transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito. While most infections are mild, the more 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.
Symptoms of WNV include fever, extreme fatigue, headache, body aches, and occasionally can also include skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes. Generally, symptoms appear 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should consult with their health care provider.
There is no treatment, cure, or human vaccination for the virus; health care providers can only treat the symptoms to help patients feel better and possibly recover more quickly.
"It’s easy to forget that WNV is still a concern since we haven’t seen as many cases in recent years,” said Helwig. “But every one of us is at risk for the disease, regardless of where we live in the state, and we should continue to protect ourselves from mosquitoes.”
Boulder County Public Health officials urge residents to take necessary precautions to protect themselves. Keep safe this summer, and remember the 4Ds:
1. Use DEET-enhanced insect repellent or alternative.
2. DRESS in long sleeves and pants.
3. Avoid the outdoors from DUSK until DAWN.
4. DRAIN standing water outside your home.
As of August 13, 174 cases of WNV have been reported in 25 states in the U.S., including 22 cases in Colorado; 7 people have died from the illness. Of all WNV disease cases reported, 47% were classified as neuroinvasive disease (e.g., meningitis, encephalitis, acute flaccid paralysis). 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 steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones, visit the Boulder County Public Health website at www.BoulderCountyMosquito.net or call the Colorado Health Information Line at 1-877-462-2911.