COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Ivan Benitez heads outside every day to walk her dogs. But she never goes out without her bug spray. This after she caught West Nile virus in in 2006.
“It went from a common cold to convulsions,” Benitez said. “I was very sick, I couldn’t get out of bed.”
There are nearly 700 human cases of West Nile virus across the country. Texas has the most with 336. There have been 16 deaths reported in the state -- eight times as many as 2011. The city of Dallas has even declared a state of emergency because of the virus.
Colorado joined the four-state outbreak in the U.S. this year, but the four reported cases here make Colorado the least impacted of the four infected states.
But that number could be on the rise.
State health officials say August and September are mosquito high season. To stay safe, they say, remember the four “Ds.”
Deet: Use insect repellent containing it.
Dress: Wear long-sleeve and light-colored clothing.
Dawn & Dusk: Avoid being outside at the beginning or end of the day when mosquitos are most active.
Drain: Get rid of any standing water around your property.
“We really want people to take this seriously,” Elisabeth Lawaczeck, the state’s Public Health Veterinarian, said. “It only takes one mosquito bite for you to get infected.”
It’s commonly thought that only the elderly and young can be affected by the virus. But health officials say that people in their 20s and 30s are also coming down with the illness right now.
Click here more information about the West Nile Virus from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.