Aug 23, 2013 5:53 PM by Elaine Sheridan
Health officials have identified 4 human cases of West Nile infection in Weld County, and the latest case is the most serious type.
The cases range from 15 to 81 years of age. Three cases involve West Nile fever; the fourth is West Nile neuroinvasive disease.
"West Nile neuroinvasive disease is the most serious type of infection, affecting the brain and spinal cord" says Dr. Mark Wallace, Executive Director for the Weld County Health Department "The milder viral infection is West Nile fever, in which people experience flu-like symptoms. However, the majority of people who contract West Nile will be asymptomatic, which means they show no symptoms."
Only a very small number of infected individuals will show the serious symptoms associated with the neuroinvasive disease. Residents who are 65 years old and older are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection.
Health officials recommend the following measures to reduce mosquitoes near homes:
· Drain standing water outside the home, such as water found in pails, old tires, trash cans, and pots. Use a Mosquito Dunk (larvicide) if you have standing water you cannot drain.
· Avoid over-watering landscapes and yards, because mosquitoes can breed in very small amounts of stagnant water.
Recommendations to prevent mosquito bites include:
· Apply an effective mosquito repellent to exposed skin and clothing.
· Avoid the outdoors from dusk until dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile infection. Fortunately, most people infected with the virus have no symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1% of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness. If someone develops symptoms, they should contact their health care provider immediately. For more information on West Nile virus and mosquito repellents, click here.