West Nile Virus
By Katie O’Donnell
The first positive West Nile virus mosquitoes have been found in Larimer County this year. Positive mosquitoes were found in northeast and southeast Fort Collins and Loveland. No human cases have been reported in Colorado so far this year.
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 easily be done by using an effective repellent or staying indoors when mosquitoes are biting.
Shaun May, environmental health director says, “Now that West Nile virus has been found in Larimer County, it is time to be proactive. Make sure you are wearing insect repellent when mosquitoes are biting. Take the time to check your property and make sure you don’t have standing water that might allow mosquitoes to breed and contribute to the spread of West Nile virus.”
Trapping mosquitoes to monitor for West Nile virus risk 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 at all to severe illness. About 75% of people who are infected don’t have any symptoms; about 25% will develop West Nile fever. Less than 1% develop the more severe neuroinvasive form, which can lead to hospitalization, critical illness, chronic disability, or even death.
Larimer County Department of Health and Environment works with our cities, a mosquito abatement company (Vector Disease Control International, formerly called Colorado Mosquito Control), and Colorado State University to monitor and assess the risk to Larimer County residents.
West Nile virus can be prevented. In addition to community efforts, such as larviciding, reducing water where mosquitoes can breed, and spraying for adult mosquitoes, individuals can remember to use the 4 D’s to help prevent West Nile virus disease:
- Defend – Use DEET or other effective mosquito repellent – Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent that has been proven to be effective against West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes. DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (also called p-menthane-3,8-diol or PMD) and IR3535 are good choices.
- Dusk to Dawn – Avoid exposure during peak Culex mosquito feeding times, from dusk through dawn.
- Dress – Wear long sleeves and pants to keep mosquitoes from biting.
- Drain – Remove standing water in your yard or garden to minimize mosquito breeding areas.
For more tips on what you can do to prevent West Nile virus, visit Larimer.org/westnile