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Summer is prime season for West Nile virus

By Flannery O’Neil
Special to The SUN

The San Juan Basin Health Department reminds residents that summer is prime season for West Nile virus. We urge individuals to continue preventive measures, including reducing the conditions where mosquitoes can hatch, as well as protecting yourself and family against mosquito bites.

West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted via mosquitoes. It is not spread from person to person or animal to person.

The majority of people who contract West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms. Approximately one in five who are infected will become ill with fever and other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely. Less than 1 percent of those infected with West Nile virus will develop the more serious neurologic infection.

There are no vaccines or specific treatments for West Nile virus.

In 2013, there were eight cases in southwest Colorado. Two human cases have been reported in Colorado so far this year, neither of which are from the southwest region.

Tips to protect yourself

• Use a mosquito repellent that has been proven to be effective against West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes. Repellents that contain DEET, Picaridin or IR3535 are good choices.

• Keep exposed skin covered or use a repellent when out at prime mosquito-biting hours, between dusk and dawn.

• Eliminate standing water on your property; for example, pet water dishes, flowerpots, gutters, birdbaths and old tires.

• Install or repair door and window screens.

Learn more

For more information on preventative measures and insect repellent options, visit www.sjbhd.org or www.cdc.org.

This story was posted on July 17, 2014.