DENVER (KDVR) — On Monday, the first human case of West Nile virus in Colorado this year was confirmed.

The mosquito-borne virus killed 20 Coloradans last year, and as of this week the virus has been detected in seven counties throughout the state, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus earlier this year than in 2022, and after a particularly wet spring, there could be more flying around the Front Range than in previous seasons.

So what does this mean for our cats, dogs, horses, cows and other pets and livestock?

Animals can get West Nile virus

West Nile virus has been documented in many household pets, according to Boulder County. However, household pets have not become ill from the virus as much as humans.

You likely won’t need to spray your dog or cat with bug spray, but for other animals, the virus can be deadly.

Of all the cases of West Nile virus in animals, over 99% were detected in horses, according to the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management at Colorado State University.

Horses infected with the virus are particularly susceptible, as the World Health Organization said it can cause severe disease and death.

While it can also cause fatal neurological diseases in humans, there is no vaccine available for people, but there is for horses.

How to protect animals

According to researchers at Colorado State University, the best way to protect your pets and livestock from West Nile virus is to minimize the amount of mosquito activity in the area.

You can do this by removing standing water or treating standing water with floating Bti briquets.

If possible, you should bring your animals indoors at night to reduce risk, according to CSU.