Local mosquitoes test positive for West Nile

Mesa County Health Department and the Grand River Mosquito Control District have announced that two sample pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus in Mesa County.

“This is happening earlier than what we’ve seen before. The last time we saw (positive testing) this early was in 2004,” said Tamara Capp, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Health Department.

The pools that tested positive likely came from the central part of the valley, said Grand River Manager Zane McCallister.

“We’re doing surveillance throughout the valley. We’ve set over traps to test mosquitoes,” McCallister said.
McCallister said they use two different types of traps to trap mosquitoes. One trap, called a CDC light trap, emits carbon dioxide like humans do and attracts mosquitoes looking for a blood mule. The other trap they use is called a gravid trap. This trap attracts adult female mosquitoes that have taken blood and are looking to lay eggs.

The Grand River Mosquito Control District expanded their coverage this year from its original boundaries of Fruita, Orchard Mesa and places along the Colorado River in the Redlands and Grand Junction to most of the valley after Referred Measure 5B passed in November 2012.

“We’re looking at ways to move forward with this in terms of isolation,” McCallister said.

McCallister said that people have to remember a positive West Nile case in mosquitoes is not the same as a positive case in humans.

According to the health department, 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus exhibit no symptoms. But, those who do emit symptoms often experience fever, extreme fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

No human cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed this summer so far although many confirmed cases have occurred in recent years. The Mesa County Health Department urges residents to take personal protective measures.

“The driving thing here is for folks to make sure they’re taking precautions,” Capp said.

The health department suggests the following precautions:

- Use insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

- Dress in long sleeves and pants when in areas where mosquitoes are active.

- Drain standing water on property.

- Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn; this is when mosquitoes are most active.


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