West Nile virus

West Nile virus cases are on the rise. Delta Memorial Hospital is prepared for such cases.

According to a statement released by the Delta County Department of Health on Sept. 17 (but dated Sept. 16), the number of recorded West Nile Virus cases in Delta County has hit 15.

“The presence of positive samples of mosquitoes is a clear indication that West Nile virus remains present and poses a risk to those who are bitten,” the release stated. “August through September are when most human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Colorado.”

Out of the 15 cases, eight of the cases have been of uncomplicated fever, five of the cases have been cases of West Nile virus encephalitis and two cases have been of meningitis.

According to Department of Health Director Ken Nordstrom, even the uncomplicated fever can affect people for several years. “Depending on a person’s immune system and how they respond to the virus, it can hang on for a long time,” Nordstrom said.

The cases of encephalitis and meningitis can potentially have prolonged recovery times and involve rehab.

At 15 cases this year, the number of recorded West Nile cases is almost twice as many as last year’s eight cases in the county. The number varies wildly from year to year based on several environmental factors, Nordstrom said. The highest number recorded in Delta County was 31, while the lowest was zero.

About 80 percent of West Nile victims never notice the symptoms and end up being unaffected, according to Nordstrom, who said that the low percentage of people who are affected make the virus not seem as serious as it is.

“That makes people complacent, and they may be the percentage that would react to this virus in very serious ways, so people just need to be diligent not to be bitten by mosquitoes,” Nordstrom said.

The Department of Health advises everyone to drain standing water on their property, avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn if at all possible, use mosquito repellents that contain deet, dress in long sleeves and pants during dusk and dawn in areas where mosquitoes are active, and screen the windows of homes to keep mosquitoes out.

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