DENVER - Colorado health officials have identified the first two human cases of West Nile virus for this season.
One of the West Nile patients is in Pueblo County and the other is in Saguache County, Mark Salley, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said Thursday.
The disease is spread by mosquitoes during the warmer months of the year, typically from July to early September.
State health officials advised Colorado residents to take precautions against West Nile virus by wearing insect repellent and using other methods to avoid mosquito bites when outdoors this holiday weekend.
Last year, Colorado reported 322 cases of West Nile virus disease, including seven deaths.
Officials anticipate a potential rise in West Nile cases this year, because heavy spring rains left abundant water, where mosquitoes breed.
"Although we can't predict how much West Nile virus activity will occur this summer, we know that the risk for human disease exists and people should take measures to protect themselves," said Jennifer House, state public health veterinarian.
To help prevent West Nile virus infection, follow the four D's:
DRAIN standing water around your house weekly. Don’t forget to drain water from tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, toys and puddles.
DUSK and DAWN are when mosquitoes that carry the virus are most active. Limit outdoor activities or take precautions to prevent mosquito bites during these times.
DEET is an effective ingredient to look for in insect repellents. Always follow label instructions carefully.
DRESS in long sleeves and pants in areas where mosquitoes are active.