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La Plata County resident dies with West Nile virus

Ten Coloradans have died so far this year with pathogen
A La Plata County resident has died with the West Nile virus, according to San Juan Basin Public Health. (Associated Press file)

A La Plata County resident has died with West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness, according to San Juan Basin Public Health.

The death occurred last week and marks the 10th death among Colorado residents with the virus this year, according to a news release issued Tuesday by the health department.

No additional information was provided about the person infected in La Plata County, including when and where the person may have contracted the virus.

The virus can be passed on to humans through bites from an infected mosquito. Most people do not get sick or have mild symptoms; those who do experience symptoms typically feel them two to 14 days after being bit, according to the release.

“Those age 60 and older and those with certain medical conditions are at greatest risk for serious illness,” the release says.

In rare cases, West Nile virus can cause a serious brain infection such as meningitis or encephalitis. Such infections begin suddenly with high fever and a headache and may progress to stiff neck, disorientation, tremors and coma, according to the release.

“Severe infections can result in permanent brain damage or death,” the release says.

Most deaths occur in people over the age of 50.

“There is no treatment for the virus other than supportive care, and there is no vaccine to prevent it,” the release says.

SJBPH urges residents and visitors to take precautions to protect themselves, including:

  • Use insect repellents when going outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol products provide the best protection.
  • Limit outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks in areas where mosquitoes are active.
  • Spray clothes with insect repellent for extra protection.
  • Empty water from tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged gutters, rain barrels, birdbaths, toys and puddles at least once every week around the home.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors.

Anyone who may be sick with West Nile virus is advised to consult with a health care provider.

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