DENVER -- One person is dead and fifteen others have been diagnosed with West Nile virus in Colorado.
"Colorado has seen a sharp increase in the number of cases of West Nile virus diagnosed in 2016," the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said.
West Nile virus has been found in 14 counties in Colorado this year -- Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Boulder, Douglas, Weld, Larimer, Bent, El Paso, Gunnison, La Plata, Mesa, Morgan and Rio Blanco. Officials noted that not all counties in Colorado collect and test mosquitoes for the virus.
Among the newly announced victims this year are a 74-year-old Lafayette woman, 47-year-old north Boulder man and 13-year-old Longmont boy in Boulder County. None of those victims were hospitalized, officials said.
Weld County reports a 32-year-old Greeley resident was diagnosed with West Nile virus fever. A horse and a raptor in Weld County also tested positive for West Nile virus this year.
Officials are not releasing the county, gender or age of the victim who died because they likely contracted the virus outside of their home county.
Of the 16 total victims diagnosed with West Nile virus this year, three of them were blood donors who showed no symptoms.
“Most people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms,” said Mark E. Wallace, MD MPH, Executive Director for the Health Department. "About one in five people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash."
West Nile virus is carried by birds and transmitted by mosquitoes that bite the infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then transmit the virus to humans, horses and other birds.
Larimer County has started spraying in three areas of Fort Collins and adjacent county areas.
Health officials recommend following the four “D’s” to preventing mosquito bites:
- Use DEET-enhanced insect repellent or alternative
- DRESS in long sleeves and pants
- Avoid the outdoors at DUSK and DAWN
- DRAIN standing water outside your home including tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, toys and puddles.
In 2015, there were 108 cases of West Nile virus in Colorado. Three of those victims died, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.