West Nile threat urgent, official says

A surge in the number of people contracting West Nile virus prompted health officials Wednesday to renew urgings that residents remain vigilant about protecting themselves.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is now reporting 52 human cases in the state, up from 33 just last week. More than half of those cases — 29 — originated in Delta, Montrose and Mesa counties, according to state data. Two people in Montrose County recently died of complications from West Nile encephalitis.

Health Department spokeswoman Karen Martsolf said nearly 20 positive mosquito samples have been collected in recent weeks between Palisade and Mack.

“With the weather changing, people may not be thinking about West Nile virus as much, but we certainly want them to be mindful of the fact that West Nile is still a threat in our community,” she said, adding that threat will linger until the first freeze, which typically hits the Grand Valley the first or second week of October.

Residents should take personal protective measures such as:

• Using insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.

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

• Drain standing water on property.

• Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn, since that’s when mosquitoes are most active.


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