(PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo.) — Public Health officials have confirmed Pueblo County’s first human death caused by West Nile virus in 2023.

“This is a tragic loss of life, and we share our heartfelt condolences with the family,” said Randy Evetts, director at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment (PDPHE).

West Nile virus develops in the human body within 5-14 days after a bite from an infected mosquito, according to PDPHE. The virus can become serious, with symptoms including fever, meningitis, and encephalitis, and it has potential for causing long-term illness, disability or death.

“We are seeing a higher number of human cases and more mosquitoes that are carrying the virus than average,” said Alicia Solis, program manager at PDPHE. “It is very important for every individual to take precautions to avoid mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus illness.”

PDPHE urges the community to protect themselves from West Nile virus by following the Four D’s:

  • DRAIN standing water around your house weekly. Remember to drain water from tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, toys and puddles.
  • DUSK and DAWN are when mosquitoes are most active. Limit outdoor activities and take precautions to prevent mosquito bites during these times.
  • DEET is an effective ingredient to look for in insect repellents. Always follow label instructions carefully.
  • DRESS in long sleeves and pants in areas where mosquitoes are active.

There have been nine confirmed human cases in Pueblo County this year.