The Pueblo West View

Beating the West Nile Virus

With the recent rains, water standing in old tires, flowerpots, cans, buckets, and clogged rain gutters can become a breeding spot for mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes can transmit diseases including West Nile virus.

As of July 3, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported two mosquito pools in Pueblo tested positive for West Nile virus.

Symptoms of West Nile virus varies:

• 70-80 percent of the population exposed do not develop any symptoms

• Approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever and may also complain of headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and fatigue

• Less than 1 percent of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness (encephalitis or meningitis), severe infection can be fatal

There is no vaccine to prevent West Nile virus nor is there specific medication to treat the infection.

Since it is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not effective in the treatment of the infection.

There is no way to predict which flying mosquito is a carrier of the West Nile virus nor is there any way to predict how sick a person will become if infected.

The threat of West Nile virus infection does not mean you need to avoid all outside activities; however, it is important to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Think prevention and actively utilize the “Four D” precautions to decrease your risk of being infected with the West Nile virus:

• Dusk and dawn - limit outdoor activities or take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, this is the time of day mosquitoes are most active

• Drain - drain standing water around the house weekly, mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water

• Dress - wear light-weight long sleeve shirts and pants during dawn and dusk or in areas where mosquitoes are active

• DEET - use insect repellents containing DEET and follow label instructions carefully

Install or repair screens on windows and doors if needed.

Additional information on West Nile virus disease can be obtained at: www.fightthebitecolorado.com or www.cdc.gov/westnile/faq.

Pueblo West resident Jane Anne Hollandsworth is a retired nurse whose 30-year career was spent primarily in nursing education and public health.

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