West Nile virus instances climbing in Colorado

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (AP) – West Nile virus infections and deaths have increased in Colorado since last year, and according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and there have been more cases than ever since the 2016 environment.

According to The Gazette, 139 Colorado residents contracted the mosquito-borne disease this week, which has resulted in six deaths. These numbers are up 297% and 500%, respectively, compared to 2020.

Despite the spike, many health officials said it’s not uncommon for the numbers to fluctuate from year to year, stressing that preventive measures like using insect repellant and avoiding the outdoors during peak mosquitoes can reduce the likelihood of contraction.

The mosquito-borne disease is known to cause fever and headache and, in severe cases, can cause neuroinvasive conditions such as encephalitis, a brain infection or meningitis, or death. However, according to Daniel Pastula, associate professor of neurology, medicine, and epidemiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health, 80% of those who contract the virus show no symptoms.

This year, 79 of the cases in Colorado – 57 percent – are classified as neuroinvasive cases, which is the highest number since 2013, according to state data.

State public health veterinarian Jennifer House said she expected the number of cases to continue to rise until the first frost.