Older Residents Urged to Take Precautions against West Nile Virus

June, 2011-The Prowers County Department of Public Health and Environment advises all residents to take precautions against West Nile Virus. Summer has arrived and this is the time of the year that mosquitoes that carry the virus become active.

Residents can take simple steps to minimize contact with mosquitoes and prevent infection with West Nile Virus:

• DRAIN standing water around the house weekly since it’s where mosquitoes lay eggs, including: tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, toys and puddles.

• DUSK & DAWN are when mosquitoes that carry the virus are most active, so limit outdoor activities or take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

• DEET is an effective ingredient to look for in insect repellents. Always follow label instructions carefully.

• DRESS in long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk or in areas where mosquitoes are active.

• For tanks and ponds use larvicides as directed, larvacides can be purchased at various retail centers in Prowers County

West Nile was first introduced in Prowers County in 2004 and human cases have occurred at various levels since then. In 2010 Prowers County had 4 cases and the first human death due to complications from West Nile Virus. Colorado had a total of 81 confirmed cases state-wide and 4 deaths in 2010.

About West Nile Virus:

West Nile Virus is carried by certain birds and transmitted to people by bites from mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds. Female Culex mosquitoes, the species that carries the virus, usually start emerging in late April or early May.

Keith Siemsen, Environmental Health Manager for Prowers County Public Health and Environment, stated, “Each season this virus will be present and circulating around the state. The severity of the season will depend on the weather.” Siemsen reports that testing of mosquito pools began last week and will continue through the summer.

West Nile Virus has an incubation period of 3 days to two weeks. It can result in fever, meningitis and encephalitis, and have the potential for causing long-term illness and disability. The virus can affect any age group; however the chance that any one person is going to become ill from a single mosquito bite remains low. The risk of severe illness and death is highest for people over 50 years old, although people of all ages can become ill. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle weakness, rash, stiff neck or changed mental state. If you have any of these symptoms please see your health care provider.

Just one mosquito bite can transmit West Nile virus or other diseases. To prevent illness from WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases, remember prevention is best when dealing with West Nile virus. Fighting mosquito bites reduces your risk of getting this disease, along with others that mosquitoes can carry.

Don’t let mosquitoes ruin your summer…. Keep insect repellent handy and get rid of mosquito breeding sites in the yard!

For more information you can call Prowers County Public Health and Environment at 336-8721 or you can visit www.prowerscounty.net or www.FightTheBiteColorado.com. CDC website www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile


Image above compliments of Tri-County Health Department


Filed Under: CountyEducationHealthPublic SafetyWeather


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