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First Human West Nile Virus Case Confirmed in Larimer County (Aug. 8, 2018)

This week the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment confirmed the first case of West Nile fever in a Larimer County resident in 2018. A second potential case is under investigation. Human case reports usually peak in August and September.

Mosquito numbers are abundant in many areas of the county. It is a good time to remind people to protect themselves from West Nile virus by taking steps to avoid being bitten. That can be done by using an effective repellent, wearing shirts with long sleeves and pants, or staying indoors when mosquitoes are biting.

Trapping mosquitoes to monitor for West Nile virus began in June in Larimer County. West Nile disease is a viral infection which is spread to people by bites from infected Culex mosquitoes. Symptoms can range from none to severe illness. About 75 percent of people who are infected are asymptomatic; about 25 percent will develop West Nile fever. Less than 1 percent develop the more severe neuroinvasive form, which can lead to hospitalization, critical illness, chronic disability, or even death.

The county health department works with our cities, a mosquito abatement company (Vector Disease Control International, formerly Colorado Mosquito Control), and Colorado State University to monitor and assess the risk to Larimer County residents.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit www.larimer.org/westnile.
 
Connections Has a New Home (July 2018)

Connections has moved to a new location in Old Town, at 425 W. Mulberry St., Suite 101. Connections is a partnership of the Health District and SummitStone Health Partners that offers answers, options, and support to individuals and families looking for help with mental health or substance use concerns, such as depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol use.

"The Connections team is excited to move to a new space that will provide a more comfortable location for providing clients and families with exceptional behavioral health services," says Kristen Cochran-Ward, Connections program manager. "We will continue to provide services in person by appointment or through our walk-in times, as well as phone consultation, assessment and referrals."

Connections services include needs assessment, information and referral, assistance with coordinating and navigating care, brief intervention, and connection to reduced-cost counseling.

The Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Connections (CAYAC) Team, which provides services to young people ages 0-24 years and their families, continues to operate out of its offices at 1302 S. Shields St.

For more information about Connections or to make an appointment, call 970-221-5551 or go to the Connections website.
 
Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus in Fort Collins (July 17, 2018)

Mosquitoes in Fort Collins have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). While the risk of contracting WNV remains low, mosquito traps in Fort Collins, Berthoud, and Weld County captured Culex mosquitoes infected with the disease.

WNV is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. The symptoms range from none to very serious. With the presence of the disease in this area, residents are encouraged to protect themselves using the Four Ds: Drain, Dress, Defend, Dusk/Dawn.
1. Drain. Mosquitoes breed in water. Drain any standing water in your yard each week. Bird baths, clogged gutters, and kiddie pools are common breeding sites.
2. Dress. Wear lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors.
3. Defend. Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. Consider spraying clothing with insect repellent since mosquitoes may bite through fabric. Use an approved repellent according to its label. For information on repellents, visit the EPA website.
4. Dawn/Dusk. Limit time spent outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active and feeding.

While there is no guarantee that you will not get WNV, using the Four Ds helps minimize the risk. To learn more about WNV, visit the City of Fort Collins website.
 
Tularemia Confirmed in Larimer County (July 2018)

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has confirmed the first human case of tularemia in a county resident in 2018. This patient developed swollen lymph nodes, and may have been exposed while gardening at home. Soil can be contaminated by tularemia-causing bacteria from the droppings or urine of sick animals, most often rabbits. When a person mows, blows leaves, or turns up the soil, these bacteria can aerosolize and be inhaled, causing pneumonic tularemia.

All warm-blooded animals are susceptible to tularemia, including livestock and pets such as dogs, cats, and birds; however, these bacteria normally occur in nature in rabbits and hares, as well as in small rodents, voles, muskrats, and beavers. A recent die-off of rabbits or rodents in a neighborhood suggests a possible tularemia outbreak among the animals in that area. The bacteria these animals shed can persist in the soil or water for weeks, and it doesn't take many bacteria to cause an infection.

Tularemia can be transmitted to people, such as hunters, who have handled infected animals. Infection can also arise from the bite of infected insects (most commonly ticks and deer flies); by exposure to contaminated food, water, or soil; by eating, drinking, putting hands to eyes, nose, or mouth before washing after outdoor activities; by direct contact with breaks in the skin; or by inhaling particles carrying the bacteria (through mowing or blowing vegetation and excavating soil). In recent years, most human tularemia cases along the Front Range have been attributed to activities involving soil and vegetation.

Typical signs of infection in humans may include fever, chills, headache, swollen and painful lymph glands, and fatigue. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer or pustule and swollen glands. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, mouth ulcers, stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Inhaling the bacteria may cause an infection of the lungs with chest pain and coughing.

Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Should you have any of these early signs, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Untreated tularemia can lead to hospitalization and may be fatal if not diagnosed and treated appropriately.

Gardeners, landscapers, mowers, outdoor workers, and others participating in leisure activities outside are advised to:
  • Wear gloves when gardening or planting trees, and always wash hands before eating or putting hands to mouth, nose, or eyes
  • Wear a dust mask when mowing or blowing vegetation, or excavating or tilling soil
  • Wear an insect repellent effective against ticks, biting flies, and mosquitoes (DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 are good choices)
  • Wear shoes, rather than going barefoot, on grassy lawns, especially if dead rabbits or rodents have been seen in the neighborhood
  • Never touch dead animals with bare hands

  • For more information about tularemia and how to protect people and pets, visit this webpage.
     
    Bike Month in June (2018)

    Every June, Colorado celebrates Bike Month, and here in Fort Collins we love anything that highlights and promotes people who ride bicycles.

    Each year on the fourth Wednesday of June, FC Bikes hosts its signature Bike Month event: Bike to Work Day (BTWD). Fort Collins' Bike to Work Day, on June 27 this year, is an event to encourage people to bicycle for transportation; experience the benefits of riding a bike; highlight Fort Collins' extensive bike routes; and demonstrate that bicycling is an easy, fun, and healthy way to travel around the city.

    On Bike to Work Day, breakfast stations will be set up across the city from 6:30am to 9:30am, and cyclists are encouraged to stop by on the way to work for coffee, orange juice, bagels, breakfast burritos, and a variety of other breakfast options, depending on which station(s) you visit.

    For more info about Bike Month and for a list of breakfast station locations so that you can plan your route on Bike to Work Day, go to the FC Bikes' webpage.
     

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