Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile

Pests captured in Mesa County are first to be found with virus

Earlier this month, Mesa County was the first county in Colorado to report its first human case of West Nile virus.

On Thursday, health officials reported that mosquitoes captured in Mesa County have tested positive for West Nile virus.

Culex mosquitoes generally are the type that carry the disease, but the populations of that kind of mosquito still are limited in the Grand Valley, said Zane McCallister, district manager of the Grand River Mosquito District.

“We’ve known West Nile was here for 10 years,” he said. “It never surprises me when West Nile shows up. It surprises me that we had a human case before mosquitoes tested positive for it.”

The Grand Valley currently is experiencing an abundance of flood-borne mosquitoes brought on by rainy and hot weather, McCallister said.

West Nile virus manifests itself in three different forms: fever, meningitis and encephalitis, the final two being the most serious, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

Most people infected with West Nile virus show no symptoms. However about 20 percent of the population infected with West Nile will show some kind of symptoms.

Last year, there were 118 human West Nile cases in the state, with seven of them in Mesa County. Four people died, one each in Alamosa and Pueblo counties and two in Denver, according to the department.

The Mesa County Health Department is encouraging residents to reduce getting mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent that contains DEET and to try to stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active, at dusk and dawn.

Light-colored, loose-fitting clothing can help deter mosquitoes, the department said.

Residents also should make sure there is no standing water on their property, to discourage mosquitoes from breeding.


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