The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment reports that mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus were trapped in Loveland and Fort Collins between July 20-24, making these the first positive samples in Larimer County in 2014.
Three out of 43 traps tested from Fort Collins, and two traps out of ten traps tested from Loveland, contained mosquitoes confirmed to carry West Nile virus (WNV).
• The positive traps in Fort Collins were in the southeast section of the city: located near Timberline and Bighorn Dr.; Westchase Rd (NW of Fossil Creek Reservoir); and Timberline and Carpenter.
• The positive traps in Loveland were in the southern part of the city, at the old Fairgrounds (west of Highway 287 at the Big Thompson River); and Boyd Lake Avenue and East County Road 20 C (southwest of the Loveland Sports Park).
“While certain neighborhoods have been confirmed to have West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes, other areas are likely infected as well, so we all need to do what we can to lower our risk of becoming infected,” said Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, director of the Health Department.
Loveland has already done some mosquito spraying in high-risk areas. The Health Department will be reaching out in Fort Collins to homeowner’s associations to encourage them to spray if the threat increases, since the city’s policy will likely preclude timely spraying in high-risk areas. In Fort Collins, the mosquitoes that can spread WNV were running nearly 3 times the annual average for the past week.
Generally it is in July that the first Culex mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus are identified in area traps. Once the first infected mosquitoes are present and start biting the neighborhood birds, the cycle of mosquito-bird-mosquito infections can rapidly increase the threat of infection to people during July and August. Numbers of infected mosquitoes usually begin to decline in late August and early September, but human cases have occurred as late as early October. Some people infected with West Nile disease can show no symptoms at all or they may have mild to serious illness that, in some cases, can lead to chronic disabilities or even death.
People over 50, and people with cancer, diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease are at increased risk of serious illness if they become infected with West Nile virus. Those with organ transplants may also be at increased risk. However, anyone may become infected and sickened by a West Nile virus-carrying mosquito.
“The surest way to prevent getting West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites” said LeBailly.
Both individual and community actions can help prevent mosquito-transmitted infections. For individuals, the Health Department recommends the following:
• 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.
• Cover up as much as possible,and use a repellent on exposed skin when out during prime Culex mosquito-biting hours (from dusk to dawn).
• Drain standing water in your yard or in your garden. Empty bird baths at least twice a week when the weather is hot.
• Add mosquito-eating minnows to or a mosquito “dunk” to ornamental ponds that hold standing water.
• Use netting over baby carriers and strollers
• Keep window screens repaired.
For more tips on what you can do to prevent West Nile virus, or on repellent use, visit: larimer.org or call 970-498-6700.