West Nile mosquitoes spike in Colorado, killing 48 people

In late July, Colorado health officials warned of an "unprecedented risk" of the West Nile virus because of an "unusually high" number of infected mosquitoes. Since then, 48 people in the state have died of the virus this year, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, making Colorado the state with the most West Nile cases in 2023. Meanwhile, 619 people have been affected and 375 people have been hospitalized (more than any other year on record in the state).

From the The Denver Gazette:

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Information, 2023 is officially the second-deadliest year in Colorado in terms of the West Nile virus, with records dating back to 2003.

A death toll of 48 is behind only the death toll seen in 2003, when 66 people died. In 2022, 20 people died after contracting the virus and in 2021, that number was 11.

While some fluctuation can be expected each year, between 2004 and 2020, the average number of deaths per year in Colorado related to a West Nile virus case was just 4.7, with the highest death toll during that period seen in 2006, 2013, 2016, and 2019 – all years when eight people died.

The highest number of West Nile virus cases took place in Denver County – 95 – followed by Arapahoe and Larimer counties, which recorded 55 and 52 cases, respectively. The median age of those affected by the virus was 62. It's also worth noting that many West Nile virus cases likely go unnoticed due to minor symptoms.

Fortunately, West Nile cases have peaked, according to the Gazette, with new cases tapering off since August. Still, if mosquitoes are in sight, take the obvious precautions: long sleeves and repellent.