West Nile Virus Detected in Pueblo

Health leaders in Pueblo announced Thursday the first West Nile virus case in Pueblo for 2010.

The health department says the victim recalled being bitten near the University Park neighborhood in the greenbelt areas outside the neighborhood, but that does not mean the mosquitoes carrying it are confined to that area.

In a statement sent out by the director of the Pueblo City-County Health Department, Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods said, "It is unfortunate that anyone contracts West Nile virus, as it can be debilitating and leave long-lasting health effects. This first West Nile virus case for 2010 confirms mosquitoes are carrying this virus in Pueblo and it is still important for individuals to protect themselves by following the Four D’s.”

The Four D's Dr. Nevin-Woods is stressing are listed below:

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

DRAIN: Everyone should drain standing water around the house weekly since it is where mosquitoes lay eggs. This includes tires, cans, flower pots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, toys and puddles.

DRESS: Be sure to dress in long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk or in areas where mosquitoes are active.

DEET: This chemical is an effective ingredient to look for in insect repellents. Always follow label instructions carefully. For children, 10% DEET or less is advised. Other insect repellents approved to protect are picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Health officials say the 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 bite people from mid May through early September in Pueblo.

Symptoms of West Nile virus generally appear 3 to 14 days after a bite. In people who become ill, most will have mild symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, gastrointestinal pain and occasionally skin rashes or swollen lymph nodes. The virus can cause serious illness leading to encephalitis or meningitis and even death.

For mosquito control information or to report high mosquito populations, call Colorado Mosquito Control, Inc. toll-free 1-877-276-4306.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and local public health agencies maintain a website containing additional information about West Nile virus. You can visit that web site by clicking on the link posted below this story.

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