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News Release

First West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes in Larimer County confirmed for 2012

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Department: Health & Environment
Release Date: Jun 19, 2012

Contact Information:

Jane Viste
970-498-6750
jviste@larimer.org

Mosquitoes from a trap in southeast Fort Collins, near Timberline and Carpenter, have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV), according to officials at the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. The trap with positive mosquitoes was collected on June 5, more than a month earlier than WNV-infected mosquitoes are found in a typical year, in mid-July.

The early appearance of infected mosquitoes in Larimer County and two other counties (Weld and Delta) suggests that this could be a summer of high West Nile virus activity and increased human infections.
 
The Health Department strongly urges Larimer County residents to use mosquito repellent when outside at peak hours, between dusk and dawn, when Culex mosquitoes are most active, even though the number of mosquitoes is relatively low right now. 
Culex mosquitoes, the ones that carry West Nile virus, increase in number as temperatures rise. In hot weather, mosquitoes grow from larvae to adult mosquitoes very quickly, increasing their numbers. WNV outbreaks often occur in drought years.
 
West Nile virus is a disease transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Infections can occur without symptoms (74%), or can cause illness (26%) ranging from mild to severe, and in some cases, can lead to chronic disability or death. At increased risk of serious illness from West Nile infection are people over 50, solid organ transplant recipients, and people with weakened immune systems. However, even healthy people can become ill from the bite of a WNV-infected mosquito. 
 
The surest way to prevent getting West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites. Preventive steps you can take:
  • Use a mosquito repellent that has been proven to be effective against West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes. Ones that contain DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (with active ingredient PMD, or p-menthane diol) or IR3535 are good choices.
  • Use mosquito netting over baby carriers and strollers.
  • Keep exposed skin covered or use a repellent when out at prime Culex mosquito-biting hours, between dusk and dawn.
  • Use a powerful fan while sitting on your deck or patio to keep mosquitoes away.
  • Drain standing water in your yard or in your garden
  • Add mosquito-eating minnows or mosquito “dunks” to ornamental ponds with still water.
  • Keep window screens repaired.
 
For more tips on what you can do to prevent West Nile virus, or on repellent use, visit:  http://larimer.org/health/cd/westnile
 
City of Fort Collins West Nile virus website:
http://www.fcgov.com/westnile
 
For information on repellent use, go to http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/RepellentUpdates.htm
 
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment West Nile virus info
http://www.fightthebitecolorado.com/ 
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