In Colorado, Western Equine Encephalitis (“Sleeping Sickness”), St. Louis Encephalitis, and West Nile Virus are all important mosquito borne diseases. They are all threats to human health. The Environmental Health Division monitors mosquito populations for the prevalence of these diseases.
What is West Nile Virus Infection?
The West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. It can infect many animals and humans. In people, West Nile Virus usually causes a mild illness, but it can also cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).
This virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where the virus was first isolated in 1937. West Nile virus first appeared in 1999 in New York City. It first appeared in Delta County in 2003 and is now widely circulating in our area.
The best way to protect yourself from West Nile Virus and other mosquito borne diseases is to prevent mosquito bites. Wear long-sleeved light colored clothing, use insect repellent with DEET, avoid outdoor activity at dusk and dawn, and remove standing water from your home or yard. Vaccines are available for horses and should be discussed with your veterinarian.