August 22, 2023
Boulder County Resident Dies from West Nile Virus
Boulder County, Colo. – Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) has confirmed a Longmont resident has passed away from meningoencephalitis caused by West Nile virus (WNV). They were the first Boulder County resident to die from the virus in 2023.
“This tragic death is an important reminder of how serious WNV can be. Our hearts go out to the impacted family and friends. Residents are strongly urged to take steps to reduce risk to themselves and the people they care about,” said Lane Drager, Boulder County Public Health Consumer Protection Program Coordinator. “Colorado has seen a substantial increase in mosquitoes in 2023, and that certainly includes Boulder County. Public Health recommends eliminating any standing water around your home, avoiding being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active and wearing insect repellant containing DEET and long sleeves and pants when outside after dusk.”
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 66 Coloradans have been affected by WNV in 2023 as of Aug. 22, with 38 cases requiring hospitalization and three deaths.
“We are so sad that the West Nile virus has claimed the life of a Longmont resident and our thoughts are with the family and friends mourning their loss,” said Joan Peck, Mayor of Longmont.
There is no treatment, cure or human vaccination for WNV, but health care providers can treat symptoms to help patients feel better and possibly recover more quickly.
WNV is transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito. While most infections are mild, the more serious infections can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and/or meningitis (inflammation of the brain’s lining), loss of vision, paralysis, coma, tremors, convulsions and death.
Symptoms of WNV typically include fever, extreme fatigue, headache and body aches but can occasionally also include skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes. Symptoms generally appear three to 14 days after infection.
While everyone is at risk of being infected with WNV, those over 50 or with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of developing serious illness. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should consult their health care provider.
Most Colorado cases of WNV are diagnosed in August and September but can also be identified as early as May and as late as December. Generally, the mosquito season extends from late April until mid-October, with the end usually signaled by the first freeze in the fall.
Boulder County Public Health officials urge residents to remember the 4Ds:
- Use DEET-enhanced insect repellent or alternative.
- DRESS in long sleeves and pants.
- Avoid the outdoors from DUSK until DAWN.
- DRAIN standing water outside your home.
For more information about WNV, mosquito activity in Boulder County or proactive steps to take, visit www.boco.org/WNV.