Larimer County Department of Health and Environment officials reported Tuesday the first report of a case of West Nile virus (WNV) in a Loveland resident. The patient showed symptoms consistent with West Nile virus, and blood tests revealed West Nile virus infection. The resident was not hospitalized.  Infection likely occurred the last full week of May.

Culex tarsalis mosquito/CDC
Culex tarsalis mosquito/CDC

West Nile disease is a viral infection which is spread to people by bites from infected Culex mosquitoes.  Symptoms can range from none at all to severe illness.  About 75% of people who are infected are asymptomatic; about 25% will develop West Nile fever.  Less than 1% develop the more severe neuroinvasive form, which can lead to hospitalization, critical illness, chronic disability, or even death.

Larimer County Department of Health and Environment works with cities, Colorado Mosquito Control, Inc., and Colorado State University to monitor and assess the risk to Larimer County residents. The Health Department also works with homeowner’s associations to provide advice on eliminating sources of mosquito breeding and other methods of mosquito control.

West Nile virus can be prevented. In addition to community efforts, such as larviciding, reducing water where mosquitoes can breed, and spraying for adult mosquitoes, individuals can remember to use the 4 D’s to help prevent West Nile virus disease:

  • DEET or other effective mosquito repellent – Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent that has been proven to be effective against West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes.  DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (also called p-menthane-3,8-diol or PMD) and IR3535 are good choices.
  • Dusk to Dawn – Avoid exposure during peak Culex mosquito feeding times, from dusk through dawn.
  • Dress – Wear long sleeves and pants to keep mosquitoes from biting.
  • Drain – Remove standing water in your yard or garden to minimize mosquito breeding areas.