West Nile appears early in Delta County

The West Nile virus popped up early this year in mosquito test samples in Delta County.

A sample of 18 mosquitoes collected June 5 in the county tested positive for the virus, as did a mosquito sample the North Fork Mosquito Abatement District gathered the same day near Paonia. West Nile didn’t appear in Delta County mosquitoes until August last year and rarely surfaces before July, according to Ken Nordstrom, director of environmental health for the Delta County Health Department.

Although the Western Slope is dry this summer, Nordstrom said certain varieties of mosquitoes thrive on simmering temperatures when they can find moisture.

“They like warm water to hatch out in,” Nordstrom said. “It could be we have a more active year because there may be a longer season for mosquitoes to breed.”

No other Western Slope counties have reported West Nile in mosquito samples, but mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus this summer in Larimer and Weld counties, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

West Nile is spread by mosquitoes that bite birds infected with the virus, then transmit the virus to humans. Most people with West Nile do not show symptoms or have mild symptoms, but some experience a fever, headaches, body aches, skin rashes or swollen lymph nodes. More severe complications include tremors, coma, disorientation, stupor, muscle weakness, convulsions and neck stiffness. The virus can cause meningitis, encephalitis or paralysis.

Visit fightthebitecolorado.com for more information about West Nile and suggestions for preventing mosquito bites.


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