Aug 31, 2012 12:27 AM by Jacqui Heinrich

Worst-ever West Nile virus outbreak takes Colorado

It's the worst outbreak of West Nile virus in U.S. history, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The infection starts with a fever, then headaches, stiffness and flu-like symptoms, usually 3 to 15 days after being bitten.

Just this year, 1,100 people were infected in 38 states. More than 40 people have died from the disease; that's almost double the number of cases from just one week ago.

In Colorado, 22 cases have been recorded so far, and officials from the El Paso County Health Department say this historic drought isn't helping. Lee Griffen, an environmental health supervisor, told News 5, "It tends to amplify the disease. There's less water for them to be in so they're looking for the stagnant water which we don't have a whole lot of, so when they find it thats when they tend to multiply."

To banish the bite, follow the 'Rule of D's'. The first: wear insect repellents with DEET-- products with 25% to 40% DEET concentration. Next, dress in long sleeves, especially during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Last, drain standing water where the bugs breed.

Experts say West Nile virus can cause serious illness, including long-term disability and brain infections. Though 4 out of 5 people bitten by an infected mosquito don't ever develop symptoms, it's not a risk you'll want to take.



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