West Nile virus found in Garfield County mosquitoes | PostIndependent.com

West Nile virus found in Garfield County mosquitoes

Anna Gauldin
Post Independent Intern

Mosquitoes trapped in three locations in Garfield County last week tested positive for West Nile virus, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced Wednesday.

The virus was detected in samples from Willow Creek in Battlement Mesa, Cottonwood Park in Parachute and Mile Pond Road, southeast of Rifle, where high numbers of the Culex tarsalis mosquito species were found.

"We live in an area where Culex mosquitoes — the ones that carry the West Nile virus — are present," said Yvonne Long, director of Garfield County Public Health. "But that doesn't mean we need to refrain from doing the outdoor activities we enjoy; it just means we need to take a few simple precautions."

To safeguard against mosquitoes, Long suggested draining standing water near homes, using insect repellents, such as ones with DEET, and wearing long sleeves and pants near dawn and dusk, when the Culex mosquitoes are most active.

Steve Anthony, the Garfield County vegetation manager, warned especially against the dangers of stagnant water.

"If you have a standard coffee can-sized container of standing water, during one summer it could produce 10,000 mosquitoes," Anthony explained. "Anytime stagnant water is around the home, it can become a mosquito breeding site."

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Long said there have been no human contractions of West Nile virus in Garfield County so far this season. This year's first human case was reported on July 3 in Delta County, which prompted the Garfield County Public Health Department to increase its awareness and prevention efforts.

"At this point, it's really about educating people, making people aware that we live in an area where mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus," Long said. "We're just starting the season now, and it lasts through the first freeze, when mosquitoes start to die off."

Garfield County Vegetation Management contracts Colorado Mosquito Control to check 11 mosquito traps weekly throughout the county, gathering data about adult mosquito populations. Based on trap data, Colorado Mosquito Control completes measures to decrease dangerous mosquito levels.

"We have a countywide program, which we've had for almost 10 years, and that's what we'll continue doing," Anthony said. "We have been fogging a couple times a week based on trap counts, trying to target adult mosquitoes that put the public at risk."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines fogging as "the insecticide [being] diluted with petroleum oil and vaporized with heat into a dense, highly visible fog of very small uniform droplets, which allows tracking the plume downwind to target areas."

Anthony said fogging generally takes place around 8:30 p.m. in areas where Culex are most prevalent. He added that Colorado Mosquito Control has a program where people living in high-risk areas can ask for notifications when mosquito treatments are taking place in their neighborhoods.

If desired, those people can request no treatment to take place on or near their property. To arrange this, call Colorado Mosquito Control at 303-419-5254 and ask for Steve Scheaffer.