Feeling the itch

Mosquito (Culex pipiens) profile

Mesa County Public Health officials concerned with the recent increase in mosquitoes issued a warning Wednesday to remind folks to protect themselves over the next couple weeks and months.

The Grand River Mosquito Control District sets traps across western Colorado that monitor mosquito populations. None of the mosquitoes tested so far have come back positive for West Nile this season.

However, the past several weeks have seen trap counts for Culex mosquitoes, a type of mosquito known to carry the West Nile Disease, spike significantly, according to Mesa County Public Health.

"Our messaging is always prevention," Mesa County Public Health's Amanda Mayle said. "We know there are more mosquitoes. West Nile is in Colorado and it is every year."

There were two confirmed human cases of the West Nile virus in Mesa County last year. Nearly a hundred cases of human West Nile virus were reported across the country last year, leading to five deaths.

Last week, 2,374 Culex mosquitoes were trapped in Mesa County, more than double the five-year average of that same time period, Mayle reports.

Mesa County Public Health Epidemiology Program Manager Heidi Dragoo felt the recent increase in Culex mosquitoes should serve as a call to action for Grand Junction residents.

Out of the 28 different variety of mosquitoes types, Culex mosquitoes are the ones health officials are concerned about when it comes to West Nile.

"The numbers show we have greatly exceeded historical Culex numbers," she said. "The takeaway is that the community should stay vigilant."

As far as tips for Grand Junction residents looking to avoid the buzzing insects, she said a great first step is to drain standing water sources near your home.

August and September are typically the months that see the highest mosquito activity.

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