Aug 6, 2012 12:39 PM by Lacey Steele
Last week, an elderly woman became California's first casualty of the West Nile virus, and several others have died in states like Texas and Arizona.
Here's more in today's Your Healthy Family.
It's those pesky mosquitoes that carry West Nile, so how can you protect yourself and your family?
"And it's just been a tough year for us," said Rob Quiring, of Mosquito and Vector Control. "A lot of mosquitoes early, and like I mentioned, we've just been playing catch-up."
Doctors say a mild winter caused an explosion of mosquitoes earlier than usual.
Across the nation there have already been around 250 cases of the virus reported this year.
That is the most at this point in the year since 2004.
As a result, mosquito control units have had a hard time eliminating mosquito breeding grounds, which can pop up almost anywhere.
"So it's not just in one specific location, so people just really have to be careful," said Quiring. "It doesn't matter where they're at."
The California woman who died was 88 years old.
She's part of a group most susceptible to the virus.
"You know, older people with immune deficiency problems, they're going to have usually the worse cases," said Quiring.
According to the CDC, only about one in 150 cases of West Nile leads to permanent brain damage or death, but you're better off not playing the odds and instead taking steps to prevent the virus by following the "3 D's."
The first "D" stands for "defend."
"We need to use a repellent consistently, whether we're going outside for a few minutes or for several hours," said Dr. Claudia Jonah, a public health official.
The second "D" stands for "drain," as in eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed.
"We want to make sure that we don't have areas around our home or workplaces where mosquitoes can multiply, so we don't want to have standing water," said Dr. Jonah.
The third "D" stands for "dusk and dawn," the times of day mosquitoes are most active.
"And we want to make sure that we recognize when we could be at risk from being bitten by a mosquito, so at dusk and dawn are the times that mosquitoes are really apt to feed and bite," said Dr. Jonah.
As of this past weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not list any cases of West Nile in Colorado.
Click here to check out and keep an eye on the list from the CDC.