Fighting West Nile Virus

By: Nora Seibert/KKTV 11 News
By: Nora Seibert/KKTV 11 News

As the weather warms up, El Paso County Health Department officials say people need to take precautions to prevent West Nile Virus.

Although the number of people infected with the virus has gone down over the last few years, health officials say it is still a threat. They say taking a few precautions can prevent weeks of suffering from fever, body aches, even meningitis.

"Drain your property of any standing water you may have to minimize any mosquito reproduction," says Don Mydlowski of the El Paso County Department of Health.

Birds are the main host of the virus. Mosquitoes acquire the virus from birds. They carry the virus in the blood they eat. When a mosquito bites a human, it can infect that person.

Mydlowski says the health department is already taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus as well. He says crews are dumping larvicide in still water on public land, and testing dead birds and mosquitoes for the virus.

According to the Health Department, in 2003 116 people contracted the virus in El Paso County. In 2004, that number dropped to two. In 2005, only one person in the county got the virus. Still health officials say, the virus is probably still lurking in birds and mosquitoes in the area.

"We really don't know what this year will bring because it all dependent upon rainfall, temperature, and just the climatic changes that could occur in our community, so just be on guard," says Mydlowski.

The Health Department recommends these steps for prevention:

-Drain standing water from your property
-Try to stay inside at dusk and dawn
-If out at dusk and dawn, dress in long sleeves and pants
-Wear bug spray with DEET

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