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Blood donor tests positive for West Nile virus in Larimer County

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Posted at 12:49 PM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-01 15:00:30-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Larimer County health officials on Tuesday reported their first confirmed human case of West Nile virus this year.

The positive West Nile case came from a blood donor in Fort Collins. All donated blood that tests positive for the virus is thrown out and not used, officials said.

Officials said the patient has yet to show any symptoms associated with the infection.

There’s been at least one other confirmed case so far this year. Jefferson County reported the state’s first human case in June.

The virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Boulder, Delta, Jefferson, Mesa and Weld counties so far in 2017.

Colorado saw a total of 149 human cases of the virus last year, eight of which were fatal.

West Nile virus is generally spread by mosquitoes. Humans who become infected with the virus typically don’t show symptoms, but the very young, very old and people with certain medical conditions that affect their immune response can be at higher risk of getting sick.

Symptoms may show up suddenly, with a high fever and headache. In rare cases, the virus can lead to a brain infection like encephalitis or meningitis. There is no vaccine for West Nile and there’s no treatment beyond alleviating symptoms.

The best way to protect yourself from West Nile is to prevent mosquito bites. State health officials recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide the best protection. Follow label instructions.
  • Limit outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active.
  • Wear protective clothing (long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks) in areas where mosquitoes are active. Spray clothes with insect repellent for extra protection.
  • Drain any standing water on your property. Mosquitoes breed in water, so items like bird baths, empty buckets, clogged gutters and kiddie pools should be drained regularly to keep mosquito populations down.

For more information on West Nile virus, log on to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website.