DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed a Denver resident has died from West Nile virus, bringing the total to 11 deaths this year in Colorado.

On Thursday, DDPHE said a 71-year-old Denver resident died after being hospitalized with the virus.

“We are thinking of the family during this difficult time,” said Bob McDonald, DDPHE’s executive director and Denver’s Public Health administrator. “This mosquito season has been particularly bad in Colorado, and I urge everyone to take WNV seriously and take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquito bites.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has been tracking West Nile cases in the state since the beginning of mosquito season.

So far in 2023, 103 people have been affected and 11 have died from the virus. Of those 103 cases, 60 people have been hospitalized.

Each year, the department tracks when symptoms start in each positive case. For the week of July 23, symptoms started for 27 people. That number is higher and earlier than the previous 5-year average.

“We still have most of August data to come through, so all the cases that are getting sick in August are not necessarily all reported yet,” said Natalie Marzec with CDPHE.

With the number of reported cases still coming in, the department can’t say if cases peaked earlier than normal or if the numer will continue to rise.

“We haven’t counted all of our cases and cases from the summer will continue to roll in throughout the fall,” Marzec said. “We can’t really say if we’ve peaked yet or not, so we may end up peaking in August as we usually do, it may just be a higher peak than we’ve seen the past 5 years.”

The first human death from the virus was reported on Aug. 4 in Weld County.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.”

DDPHE said the community can help fight against West Nile by following these precautions:

  • Stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water on your property
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with DEET. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Avoid activity outdoors from dusk until dawn
  • When outdoors, wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Use mosquito repellent as well as candles, incense, and other means to deter mosquitos from your vicinity
  • Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors

For more information on mosquito activity in Denver, call the Colorado Health Information Line at 877-462-2911.