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West Nile Virus Strikes Early This Year, First Case Confirmed In Larimer County

By Jeff Todd

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) - The West Nile virus has struck earlier than normal in Colorado. The state's first confirmed case was announced Tuesday in Larimer County.

"Obviously there are a lot of factors. It could be weather, heat, rain -- a combination of things. Sometimes it's just good season or bad season," said Katie O'Donnell with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. "Normally we don't even see positive numbers of mosquitoes go up until the second week in June. So it's early for the mosquitoes to be out in number as well."

The unidentified victim lives in Loveland and was likely bit in early to mid-May. They have not been hospitalized.

Trapping of mosquitoes has begun in some areas of Larimer County but testing of those mosquitos for the virus won't happen until next week.

Culex tarsalis mosquito
A culex tarsalis mosquito (credit: nathistoc.bio.uci.edu)

"Residents will be able to check online (www.larimer.org/westnile) to see weekly maps showing the number of culex mosquitoes that were trapped in and around their neighborhoods in several urban areas of the county. If the trapped mosquitoes were tested for West Nile infection, weekly results can be found on a second map.

"Not all communities test the trapped mosquitoes due to the cost," said a press release from Larimer County.

LINK: Colorado Department of Health's West Nile Virus Page

Additional Information From The Colorado Department Of Public Health And Environment

To help prevent West Nile virus infection, follow the four D's:

– DRAIN standing water around your house weekly. Remember to drain water from tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, toys and puddles.
– DUSK and DAWN are when mosquitoes are most active. Limit outdoor activities and 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.
For more information about West Nile virus, visitFightTheBiteColorado.com.

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he's been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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