West Nile Virus Concerns

West Nile Virus
By  | 

The West Nile Virus has now been detected in the blood of at least four animals in Colorado, including one in Pueblo County. For weeks, health officials knew the virus was headed to our state. On Thursday, they confirmed its arrival in Colorado.

In Weld County near Greeley, two horses, a crow and possibly a chicken have all tested positive for the virus. In Pueblo County, there was a positive result in a horse.

Harbored in migratory birds, the virus spreads by mosquitoes to people and horses.
It can lead to West Nile Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

Doctor Tom Wood with the El Paso County Health Department says Fountain Creek is a prime area where West Nile Virus could show up in Southern Colorado. But one factor in our favor: Colorado’s mosquito life-cycle is fairly short.

In Pueblo County, where the virus has already been detected, the Department of Health is already spraying for mosquitoes to lessen the chances of someone contracting West Nile Virus.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says you should also keep an eye on birds. About 70% of birds infected with the West Nile Virus in the United States have been from the Corvid family, including crows, magpies, ravens and jays. If you find a dead bird, you should place it in a plastic bag using gloves or a shovel and keep it in a cool area. The bird should then be given to your local county public health department or a local animal control agency.

The El Paso County Health Department says less than 1% of people exposed to the virus will become severely ill. Historically, people who do become sick as a result of the West Nile Virus tend to be over the age of 50. Serious illnesses and death tend to occur in the elderly.

Most people who do become ill have no symptoms. Those who do contract the virus have a fever, headaches and feel tired for 2-to-7 days before they recover. It usually takes about 5-to-15 days for symptoms to occur. You cannot contract the virus from another person or birds.

There are some precautions you can take against the virus.

  • Limit outdoor activity around dawn and dusk.
  • Wear protective clothing with long sleeves and long pants.
  • Use insect repellant when you’re outside
  • Make sure door and window screens fit properly and do not have holes.
  • Drain all standing water
  • Change water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week.

    For more information about West Nile Virus, check out the following website:

    Colorado Department of Public Health & Education