West Nile Virus

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The number of confirmed cases of West Nile virus rose to 28 in Colorado on Friday, and state health officials say they expect the total to continue growing.

El Paso County Health Department officials say a 31-year-old woman has contracted the virus. She was hospitalized and is now recovering at home. But, it's not clear where she was when she contracted it. She may have been infected outside of El Paso County.

Health Department officials say the woman has a "severe" case of West Nile Virus, which can lead to meningitis. This involves an irritation of the linings of the brain and hospitalization. The typical West Nile Virus patient would have only flu-like symptoms, and may not even know he or she has it at all.

Not all mosquitoes carry West Nile Virus. And less than 1 % of people who are bitten by mosquitoes develop any symptoms of the disease. Statistically, the odds of getting the serious type of West Nile Virus, if you're infected, is 1 in 150. "We know that the mosquito season is not at its height and we haven't seen probably seen the number of human cases that we may see soon. That may not happen for another 2-3 weeks. So we are nowhere near the end for this summer," says Robin Nypaver, a nurse who specializes in infectious diseases.

That doesn't mean you need to panic--just be prepared to prevent an infection. There are some easy ways to reduce your chance of getting infected:

  • Drain bird baths or pools of standing water.
  • Wear bug repellent with DEET
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants when you are outside at dusk or at dawn.
  • Make sure window screens don't have holes in them.

    And remember---time is on your side. Typically, in mid-to-late September, West Nile Virus season is over.

    Click here for more information on West Nile Virus

    Last year more than 4,100 cases of West Nile in humans were
    reported nationwide -- including 284 deaths.