3 cases of West Nile virus confirmed in Boulder County


BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Three people in Boulder County have contracted West Nile virus, public health officials said Wednesday.

They are the first cases of the mosquito-borne virus in Boulder County this year. The residents live in Longmont, north Boulder and Lafayette, and range in age from 13 to 74.

All three residents reported fever, headache, muscle weakness and severe fatigue, Boulder County Public Health officials said in a statement. One person also reported a rash, eye pain and joint pain, and another reported nausea.

None of the residents was hospitalized.

“While most infections are mild, the more serious infections can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and/or meningitis (inflammation of the brain’s lining), loss of vision, paralysis, coma, tremors, convulsions, and death,” officials said.

“Although the Zika virus has been in the news lately, West Nile virus is a more serious issue in our region,” Boulder County Public Health Regional Epidemiologist Kylie Chilton said.

Symptoms generally appear three to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, officials said.

Symptoms will typically include fever, extreme fatigue, headache and body aches, but can occasionally also include skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes. Officials are urging anyone who experiences these symptoms to talk to a doctor.

People older than 50 or with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of developing serious illness.

There is no treatment, cure or human vaccination for the virus, but health care providers can treat symptoms to help patients feel better and possibly recover faster.

Colorado has seen a sharp increase in the number of cases of West Nile virus diagnosed in 2016, officials said.

This year, 13 cases of human West Nile virus have been reported, including one death. Health officials expect more cases to be diagnosed as the summer progresses.

Last year, 101 people in Colorado contracted West Nile virus and three died.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said people, animals and mosquito pools have tested positive for the virus in Adams, Arapahoe, Bent, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Gunnison, La Plata, Larimer, Mesa, Morgan, Rio Blanco and Weld counties.

Health officials are urging residents to remember the four D’s to prevent contracting West Nile virus:

  • Use DEET-enhanced insect repellent or alternative.
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants.
  • Avoid the outdoors from dusk until dawn.
  • Drain standing water outside your home.

For more information about West Nile virus, mosquito activity in Boulder County or proactive steps to take, visit BoulderCountyMosquito.net or call the Colorado Health Information Line at 1-877-462-2911.