Though summer days may be waning, the risk of West Nile infection is not. It’s time to ramp up your protection against mosquito bites according to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. There has been an increase in numbers of mosquito traps testing positive for West Nile virus over the past two weeks. Those numbers are expected to continue to rise over the next several weeks, thus raising the risk of being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus.
“This is the time of summer when mosquito infection rates are elevated even if overall number of mosquitoes does not seem high,” said Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, director of the Health Department. “Many late summer activities in our county happen outdoors in the evenings. We urge people to use an appropriate mosquito repellent, especially over the next six weeks, when outdoors between dusk and dawn.”
The Larimer County Health Department is investigating a possible human case of West Nile with neurological complications. Further testing is being done to try to confirm the diagnosis. Statewide, there have been three confirmed cases and three positive blood donors, all outside Larimer County.
West Nile virus is a disease transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can cause mild to severe illness and, in some cases, leads to chronic disability or death.
At increased risk of serious illness from West Nile infection are people over 50, solid organ transplant recipients, and people with weakened immune systems. However, all persons who are not adequately protected are at risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The surest way to prevent getting West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites, Preventive steps you can take include:
• Use a mosquito repellent that has been proven to be effective against West Nile Virus-carrying mosquitoes. Ones that contain DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (with active ingredient PMD, or p-menthane diol) or IR3535 are good choices.
• Use mosquito netting over baby carriers and strollers.
• Keep exposed skin covered or use a repellent when out at prime Culex mosquito-biting hours, between dusk and dawn.
• Use a powerful fan while sitting on your deck or patio to keep mosquitoes away.
• Drain standing water in your yard or in your garden.
• Empty any containers, toys, or other objects where rainwater may have collected at least twice a week.
• Add mosquito-eating minnows or mosquito “dunks” to ornamental ponds with still water.
• Keep window screens repaired.
For more information about West Nile virus, or on repellent use, visit www.Larimer.org/health or call 970-498-6700.