First mosquitoes test positive for West Nile

Mosquitoes trapped in the Grand Junction area have tested positive for the West Nile virus, a reminder that residents need to protect themselves to avoid infection, Mesa County health officials announced Thursday.

It is the first positive mosquito sample in the county this year. There have been no human cases of West Nile confirmed locally. Two positive human cases have been reported in Boulder and Denver counties, the Health Department said.

“Once we see a positive mosquito, we know there is a risk of transmission to humans, so we want to urge residents to take precautions against West Nile,” Health Department spokeswoman Karen Martsolf said.

Martsolf said the Health Department has five traps set within a five-mile radius stretching north to south from Orchard Mesa to Horizon Drive, and west to east from First Street to Lincoln Park. She said the traps collected more culex mosquitoes — the type that carry West Nile — this year than normal.

Health officials urge residents to take these precautions:

Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn and the first two hours after sunset.

When outdoors, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

Apply insect repellent containing DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus or Picaridin, according to label instructions.

Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property that can support mosquito breeding.

If water cannot be removed, treat it with a mosquito larvicide.

Martsolf said the risk of West Nile infection continues until the first hard freeze in the Grand Valley, which usually occurs in October.


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