A horse in Platteville sick with West Nile virus shows that humans are not the only species impacted by the disease. According to Colorado State University, horses infected with West Nile virus are not an infection risk for other horses, animals or humans. However, the same Culex mosquito bites that infect horses are also a risk for humans.
West Nile infection rates are increasing in Weld County and health officials continue to stress the importance of protecting oneself. “Weld County currently has twelve confirmed human West Nile virus cases, and more are being investigated” says Dr. Mark Wallace, Executive Director for the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment. The cases range from 15 to 81 years of age. Of those confirmed cases, three have meningoencephalitis—the most serious form of infection, the other nine have West Nile fever. There is one confirmed death attributed to West Nile meningoencephalitis in Weld County this year. “The risk for West Nile infection will continue until the first killing frost, so be safe outside” says Wallace.
Residents who are 65 years old and older are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection. Recommendations to prevent mosquito bites include:
Recommendations to reduce mosquitoes near homes and animals:
There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile infection in humans. A vaccine for horses is available. Fortunately, most people infected with the virus have no symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1% of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness. If someone develops symptoms, they should contact their health care provider immediately. For more information on West Nile virus and horses visit http://www.ext.colostate.edu/westnile/faq.html#Horses
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