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Sep 25, 2013 7:22 PM by Tony Spehar

First case of West Nile in El Paso County in 2013 confirmed

A confirmed case of a person being infected with the West Nile virus in El Paso County is prompting warnings from health leaders that despite being so late in the season the threat remains.

According information released by El Paso County Public Health on Wednesday, an adult man was found to have been infected. The virus is transfered to humans by mosquitos. The first human case of West Nile in the county was found in 2003 which was the worst year in the past decade for the virus. Dr. Bill Letson, Medical Director of EPCPH, said statewide the number of infections is a little bit higher than normal this year at around 200 cases.

Letson said that 80-percent of people infected by West Nile don't show any symptoms and don't even know they're infected. Only a small percentage of the remaining 20-percent develop serious problems such as meningitis and encephalitis with most people only having flu-like symptoms.

It is somewhat unusual to have a case so late in the year, with August being the most likely time for human infections. Letson said standing water from recent heavy rains could raise the threat level but flooding may also have put a big dent in the mosquito population.

"If they had laid large pools of eggs in some existing ponds flooding really wipes that out and they have to start over again so it's a bit of a mixed bag," Letson said of the recent heavy rains.

Anyone spending time outside, especially at dawn and dusk, is cautioned to cover up as much of their skin as they can, use repellant, drain standing water and use larvicide in any large pools of water that can't be drained.



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